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Editorial: Our lives filled with ‘new normals’

They say we’re in for a new normal when governments start easing coronavirus restrictions.

A new normal?

I’ve been dealing with that all of my life. And let me tell you, not all “new normals” are bad.

As a child, I reveled in exploring the woods, playing in the branch, and shooting a basketball for hours on end on a goal attached to an old road sign that was attached to the smokehouse. Then they said I had to go to school every day.

A new normal.

At school, we had to sit quietly at a desk pretty much all day. A brief break for exercise, a brief break for lunch. Then back to the desk.

A new normal.

My older brother, my ball playing partner all of my life, decided he wanted to go to college. I was resigned to hitting rocks with my baseball bat instead of pitches he would throw. I pretended someone was guarding me while shooting basketball.

A new normal.

Along about the middle school grades, I started noticing the world around me a bit more. Those woods around the house weren’t as enticing as before. Then I got my driver’s license and a car, and because of my age, I was one of the first in my class to get their own set of wheels.

A new normal.

High school became a Robert Earl Keen song. The road does go on forever, and that old Buick I had got more miles on it in a year than vehicles I drive now get in three or four years. Then the gas crisis of the mid-70s hit, and I, like most others, was left at home. No cable TV or internet.

A new normal.

Then came college, and with it, more responsibility. It was up to me to study for tests, there was no one on my case telling me to do it. It was up to me to decide when to eat, when to exercise, when to party, when to study, when to work.

A new normal.

After graduation, there was this thing called a job. You needed the job to pay for a roof over your head, food for the table, a vehicle to drive. If you didn’t go to work, you didn’t get any of the above.

A new normal.

Those jobs changed from time to time. New people. New places. New duties. New responsibilities.

A new normal.

I used to tell jokes at the office. People would ask for them and I would tell one or two. Then those same people complained. I can no longer tell jokes at the office.

A new normal.

Then I got married. No more prowling the bars and malls looking for love. No more wondering where I would have supper that night. No more wondering about whether I was truly loved or not.

A new normal.

So you see, our lives are filled with new normals; it’s just that nowadays, they seem to be happening more often. No going out to eat. No going for a haircut. No stopping for a drink on the way home from work. No festivals or church breakfasts.

We have yet to be told what our new normals will be, but you can bet they will include wearing masks when in public (Don’t we have laws on the books that prevent the covering of one’s face in public?) and social distancing, that new phrase meaning we stay six feet apart from one another.

People are already complaining, and that’s understandable. We’re walking on new water here. Even most doctors and experts will say, when pressed, that they’re only guessing (educated guesses, but guesses still the same) when they say how well the measures being taken now, and in the near future, will work. They know how a virus spreads, so the restrictions now are in preventing that spread. That much makes sense.

Opening the country to the way things were before the virus will be risky, whether next week or next month. We just don’t know.

And the people making those decisions, from the president down to the governor, well, they’re politicians. We need leaders, not politicians, and those are few and far between these days.

A new normal.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.