THE NEW NORMAL

There’s a lot of change going on these days.  The 100-year storm that wreaked havoc on the east coast of the U.S. recently was apparently the third such storm in the state of Connecticut where I live in the last fifteen months.  Such storms happen with some regularity somewhere on the globe, but these are where they’re not “supposed” to be.  There’s much that isn’t supposed to be these days.  Apparently many of the losing candidates in the recent U.S. national election lost because they failed to recognize the dramatic change in demographics going on in this country, and indeed around the world.  There are crises everywhere, from the European Union to the Middle East, to here in the U.S.; things are being turned upside down and we don’t like a lot of it.  For many, everything is different from the way it was, from the food we eat, to women in places previously dominated by men, to technology advances so fast we can’t keep up with them.  What’s “supposed to be” is being revisited.

Something simple caused me to think more deeply about my need to find a new way of seeing things.  Fall has always been my absolute favorite season, something I look forward to as much as some kids wait for Santa Claus.  It has that clean crisp New England air and the most brilliant natural art show in the trees renowned around the country.  It’s also been my prize for putting up with summer heat and humidity.  But last fall’s storms put a major damper on the show with prolonged power outages and major tree damage.  The effect was strong enough to stir up a tinge of foreboding for me early this season, “Could it happen again?”  And much to my astonishment, along came Sandy!

I’ve realized I have to let go of placing so much of my joy in situations and circumstances, in events, in places, or things.  A spiritual mentor of mine admonished me years ago not to be so “event-driven” in response to my telling him how I looked forward all year to his annual conference.  It’s taken me a while to get his point.

As beautiful as autumn is in this part of the country, there’s no less beauty or  joy in other seasons, in other days, in other moments.  I‘ve missed some of it by putting so much focus on one grand spectacle.  I missed spring for years because it served only to remind me that summer was coming.  As much as I love flowers, and gardening, I missed out on much of that struggling against summer’s heat and little critters.  To my credit, I started appreciating these seasons years before the storms came to CT.  I’d made a concerted effort to notice things, like the delicate beauty of little shoots starting to push through the ground, reminiscent of chicks pecking opening their shells, and popping out in wonderment to greet their new world.  And summer now has me so focused on the sun and heat the flowers need, I overlook my personal discomfort!  There’s an endless parade of joy every day, if I’m willing to keep discovering it.  Indeed my new normal is discovery!

So, in the world things seem to be turning up side down, but the earth always gets pushed around a bit as new shoots push their way up from the depths, but it all rights itself eventually.  The world’s seen lots of upheaval in its history, something wonderful eventually came out of it.  So, I can stop worrying about the loss of a season as I knew it, or the rapid rate of change in everything, and concentrate on watching to see what new sprouts will come.  As my mentor also said about how to approach life, “Always be willing to be surprised!”

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