Thoughts of Love & Hope: Entry #2

Apr 17, 2020

I woke up this morning thinking about the word “normal.” Like every morning over the last several weeks, it was a very early morning for me – 3am. My sleep is hit-and-miss these days and comes whenever it wants to. Sometimes when most people sleep. Sometimes right after I’ve had my afternoon tea, or in the middle of “Jeopardy!” I take it when it comes – whether it’s a normal time or not.

I’ve always been bothered by the concept of “normal.”

I was born with a circulation condition in my right leg. Prior to my amputation when I was 22, I don’t recall walking without a limp and/or assistive devices of some kind. I had 9 major surgeries to try to correct issues that resulted from the circulation condition. My doctors and physical therapists told me that all they wanted for me was that I walk “normally.” My parents, my teachers, my friends… they just wanted me to have a “normal” life.

You can imagine that these messages of normalcy were at best confusing to me. In truth, they were hurtful. These messages implied that “normal” was good and ideal, which meant that the way I actually was living and moving through the world was NOT normal and therefore bad.

The first definition of “normal” that came up in my Google search this morning reads, “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.”

On the other side of this crisis and the stay-at-home orders, I’m just wondering, do we really want to “go back to normal”? Our normals both then and now – the usual, typical, expected – mean that there are systemic injustices that are deeply harming vulnerable communities. It means that there are people on the margins who are not receiving adequate medical care; it means that there are people who cannot live in the privilege of social distancing because they are unhoused; it means that there are people whose income level dictates whether they can work from home.

My hope is that we move through the current crisis into a new normal, and that our new normal – what becomes typical, expected, and usual – is a spirit of community and responsibility for our neighbors, where we readily recognize our privilege and quickly respond to small and large inequities. And in this new normal, each of us can live in the wisdom that our actions – both large and small, born of love and hope – can profoundly affect the greater good.

With Love & Hope,
Melissa Brickey
DAP Executive Director