Tuesday, March 20

there is no such thing as normal

Over the last several weeks, our family has been beset by a series of small  and not-so-small calamities, which accounts for the radio silence around this here blog. My husband's aunt, to whom we were physically, though not emotionally, close, fell ill, was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and died 10 days later. Seemingly endless hours were spent at her bedside, then dealing with family drama. We were rear-ended (we are fine) while literally on our way to the hospital; in the ER we found out that our son had 103 degree fever, and a double ear infection. We had relatives over for a weekend. Then it was Spring Break, which meant I went without the sanity-saving benefits of two days of Silas being at Mother's Day Out. Oy.

Last night, Central Texas was battered by a fierce storm system: golf ball-sized hail, tornadoes, flooding, crashing symphonies of thunder and lightning hit all around us. (We are fine, although exhausted from lack of sleep.) Then this morning I awoke to a world scrubbed clean, on the first day of Spring Equinox, to the sun shining, and to that moment I have been waiting for for weeks: Silas' return to daycare, and (hopefully) my return to sanity and normalcy, all calamities behind us.

In the early days of this stretch of bad luck, I had the wisdom to give up. By which I mean, to stop fighting the onslaught of mess and trouble, to let go of the internal struggle against what was happening, to give up resisting what was being demanded of me. On many days, that meant giving up my formal practice: no sitting, no yoga, no writing. And even on those days, I had this quiet sense that even as I had to leave my practice for a while, my practice hadn't left me--I had the keen feeling that my practice was working. I wasn't on the cushion so much, but I was sitting--on hospital beds, hospital chairs--with an open, non-judgmental awareness of what was in front of me. I took care of what needing caring for, knowing that the time would come again when I could take care of me.

Now that that moment has finally come, the return to normal so long awaited for, I have the sneaking suspicion that there is no such thing as returning to normal, because there is no such thing as normal. Normal is an idea we have about what life is like, and maybe on a handful of days over the course of the year we get to live that best day, the day we wish every day was like. The day we call normal. And the rest of our days are spent half falling away from normal, half trying to get back to it. By this accounting, most of our days are spent wishing things would be other than what they are.

Surely there are seasons in life. Seasons for work, for friendship, for happiness, for sadness, for love, for grief, for inspiration, for lying fallow. Seasons when family members are sick, when family members are dying. Surely there are wild storms, and days of peace and sunshine. But normal? Either all days are normal, or none of them are. Either way, normal is not something worth striving for. Presence is. Or better yet--the absence of striving.

That all being said--I am so happy to be sitting here, a bowl of strawberries and dark chocolate at my side, the window open to birds singing, my wee boy happily busy playing with his buddies, peace & sunshine, and writing. It's good to be back. I hope to be back again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.


  1. yes, every time i think life is getting back to normal i am pleasantly reminded there is no normal, just shades of. glad things are slowly leveling out for you guys :)

  2. One of the lines you wrote reminded me of an Andy Warhol quote: "either everyone is beautiful or no one is."

  3. You have discovered a truth which many never discover. Life is what it is. Life spent striving in frustration for the day when we "get it all together" is time wasted.


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