I was a little late for work today, although there was no one there to scold me.
I am still on my island and my work is still this – writing these Notes, working on several novels, a children’s book and an introduction to medicine for young kids. But I have done my best to separate my office from the rest of my house.
We are told that part of the adjustment to the lockdown is to try to maintain as much routine as is possible. There is a meme of a man standing in his bathroom, arm raised up to the shower curtain bar as if riding the subway. The sense of purpose helps to dispel aimlessness and gives the warm comfort of the known in such a topsy-turvy world.
One problem I have had is that I have never worked in a regular office as such. During my medical days, my life was the frantic confusion and chaos of a clinic full of children. I loved every moment and miss the kids a lot. But I’m not sure what an office routine looks like.
So, I have invented one. I rise to take care of the dog by 6:30. Breakfast with my wife by 7:00. Showered and dressed by 7:15 to grab a cup of coffee for my “commute” – the fifty or so paces to get from the kitchen downstairs to the office up. E-mails read, today’s ‘Note from the Island’ edited and posted, writing begun.
I realize that I am insanely lucky. I have a comfortable home and plenty of office space to ply my trade. I also realize that most of my glib little jottings may never see light of day. I’m not sure that it matters.
It is a bad time to give in to peevishness, but one of my pets is the phrase ‘New Normal’. There is nothing ‘Normal’ about any of this. Normal implies permanence – the institution of long-standing traditions or conditions. Even the most ardent of Jeremiahs don’t believe that the contagion will be around forever. Lockdowns will pass, restaurants will open, hugs will be freely distributed again. The lockdown is a ‘temporary abnormality’.
What should be the New Normal is our vigilance about healthcare resources and access. What should be the New Normal is our concern for the poor, the elderly, the ‘compromised’ in society. What will never be normal (I pray) is the fear and the anxiety.
We should all continue to feed our dogs, make our coffee, read our email and do our writing. We should find a true normal to supplant the surreal that surrounds us. It is the Old Normal that requires our careful tending during these trying times.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]