The litany of ills and travails – big and small, natural, geo-political, economic – seems to be unusually long around the globe right now. Many people in many parts of the world are steeped in or trying to fend off chaos, their ordinary life set aside for the time being. But plenty of other segments and corners of the populated world go about their ordinary business day after day and only encounter the chaos when they access the news.
Does that seem a bit strange to you? While the main part of my mind is keeping track of my appointments, facilitating tasks at work, planning and cleaning and ticking through my days another part is contrasting my regular schedule against the topsy-turvy days of all the people affected by these various storms (manmade and natural). And wondering how these people that I don’t know are coping.
It is back to school season and I see the effect at the school across the street as I leave for work. My company supplies products to schools which means that we are quite hectic these days. But aside from some people having flooded basements thanks to all the rain, or difficulty getting in to the office for the same reason we are all going through actions that we have done for ages, routine.
I do know someone whose son was evacuated from Liberia due the Ebola outbreak but that is as close as I personally come to most of the turmoil. How about you? Do you have relatives in Ukraine or Israel or Syria or Ferguson, MS or…
The world is a big place and it has always been true that there will be turmoil here and there and normal life will occur everywhere else. Routine is annoying, but also comfort. A seismic shift – either literal or not – that removes a person, a group, or a whole region from the ordinary usually seems to happen elsewhere. Until it doesn’t. Most of the time ordinary is just that, but every once in a while there is such a spike of chaotic activity, or the chaos hits too close to home, that ordinary seems rather strange.
I remember my first jolt of the strangeness of ordinary. We were all called together because my grandmother was not doing well, but when I woke up the next morning at my uncle’s house and heard laughter downstairs I believed that she must have made it through the night. Until my dad came up to tell us that she hadn’t. How could they have been laughing?
I used the phrase ‘seismic shift’ earlier in this post because I have experienced real earthquakes, including a major one, and it is quite disorienting to have the ground beneath your feet move violently. To see the damage that an earthquake can wreak up close. The mind can’t quite take it in.
Knowing that disquiet I can’t decide if it is right to carry on normally or that there is great strangeness in the ordinary.
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