Normalcy is a Delusion. Change is Normal. Adaptation Happens. Always.
“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant …” — Warren Harding
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” — Victor Frankel
I thought it appropriate to reflect on the words of (first) one of our more obscure presidents and, (second) a man who endured and survived the Holocaust.
Harding was addressing a nation coming off not only the 1918 Influenza pandemic but also World War I. He was widely castigated for his lack of vision, but I think most of us can, at this moment, appreciate his message.
Frankel, of course, made it through perhaps the worst circumstances that a human being can withstand. Enormous uncertainty and fear were part of the fabric of daily life in both contexts. We are living through a period of uncertainty and fear now. I thought it worth writing a few words on normalcy.
I recall from my Coast Guard days, that one of the objectives to any national disaster response was to assist effected communities in regaining a sense of ‘normalcy’. Routine, ritual, the familiar — all of these decrease the feeling of uncertainty inherent in a crisis and increase a sense of control over one’s life.
All of that said, I suspect many people whose routines have been turned upside down by the pandemic have — over the course of months — developed routines and rituals that take the edge off a period of indefinite turbulence. Personally, I find that even a rigid control freak like me can find routine in abnormal or novel circumstances.