New normal

New normal

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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All things that are ordain'd festival,

Turn from their office to black funeral;

Our instruments to melancholy bells,

Our wedding cheer to a sad burial feast;

Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change;

Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse;

And all things change them to the contrary.

— Shakespeare

Festival , instruments, burial feast, wedding cheer, buried corse. (Corse, archaic word for corpse). All things change them to the contrary. That old quote is so eerily prophetic, as all those things mentioned have had to be adjusted, modified, changed, as we adapt to the new normal.

We are all creatures of habit, customs, traditions, social mores, and indeed, each man thinks that his ways and customs are the laws of nature. Just because he has been doing it forever he thinks that's the way that it should be done as decreed by nature.

But this time it's nature that has proved that her laws are the only ones that we are forced to obey…or suffer the consequences. Suddenly, what was always deemed to be normal is no more, and we now have to exist in a new paradigm, a new normal, or pay the price.

Adapt or die, change or be changed, adjust or perish. That is what we have to now do in the age of the novel coronavirus pandemic, exist in a new normal, a fact that we'll find out more about right after these responses to my take on 'Reaction to deception' and 'Unrequited love'.

Hi Tony,

The reaction of those deceived, mostly men, is due to ego. Those men's fragile egos cannot handle the fact that their other half is not so much into them. Their shattered ego drives them to react violently, while in contrast, the self-confident men take things in stride and move on. Then there are those who quietly plan their revenge without violence. “It is twice the pleasure to deceive the deceiver.” — Jean De La Fontaine.



Newton's Law: In every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law cannot be applied to men and women's love affairs in every case, but Newton's Law is not wrong. In Buddhism there are two kinds of law, 528, which is pure love and kindness, among parents and children for example. Another one is 1500, more powerful, but filled with sexual desire, lustful love. For the latter you cannot apply Newton's Law.


One night we went to bed with hopes and dreams and great plans for a bright, normal tomorrow. Instead we woke up to a nightmare that has changed our lives and seems to have no end in sight. Corona, COVID-19, whatever name we choose to give it, is now an integral part of our lives, forcing us to change our way of living, adjust our methods, throw away habits of the past and exist in a new world. Welcome to the new normal.

What was normal up to March of this year is no longer so, for what we accepted as the norm then, we can no longer do. The simple act of a handshake was normal then, but now it's a frightening prospect.

The new normal means wearing a mask in public at all times in order to not only protect yourself from the virus, but also protect others from getting it from you. We have to assume that everyone is infected, everyone has it, everyone is a silent carrier, and treat them as such.

It's now the new normal to basically scorn anyone who you encounter, view them with suspicion and treat them as if they are grossly infected lepers. At least leprosy had visible symptoms, this virus has none. Remember MC Hammer's song, Can't touch this? Well, that's how we have to treat people nowadays in this new normal.

I remember years ago when I was in Japan I saw many people wearing masks. How odd, I surmised, and thought that it was to ward off the effects of air pollution. Maybe it was, but I was still curious. But they were way ahead of us, for those mask-wearers were protecting themselves and others from whatever nasties were floating around in the air.

Our normal up until March of this year was to shake hands, hug each other, touch on the shoulder, meet and greet with a kiss on the cheek, or even on the lips if you were to be so bold. That was normal behaviour for us but alas, in a flash it's abnormal now, as the new normal dictates that we greet from a distance, perhaps bump elbows or even feet, but never, ever touching.

As the French say, “Ne touche' pas moi” — do not touch me. Will the generation following us grow up not knowing what it is to hug, kiss, shake hands, touch each other? The new normal dictates that weddings and funerals be kept small. Our previous normal was to have weddings and funerals of epic proportions, with family and friends overflowing with joy or grief, depending on whether they were celebrating the birth of a union, or the departure of a loved one. Nothing overflows now, not even the congregation in the church and its confines.

A couple's worth was determined by how large and lavish their wedding was, and a man's importance was marked by the size of his send-off.

“What a big wedding Keisha and Kingsley have…nice.”

“Mr Clarke was a very important man, look how him funeral massive.”

That was the old normal.

In this new normal the funeral is no longer measured by the size, the grand scale of hundreds fitting only for a person of worth, but is now reduced to a paltry few who can barely bear to view the bier as they bare their sorrow, perhaps sipping silently on a beer afterwards.

We are all equal now, for as Toulouse Lautrec is purported to have said, “The measure of greatness is not found on a yardstick.” The size of a wedding or funeral is now reduced in this new normal, the great equaliser.

Things that we once took for granted, normal up to a few months ago, are no longer so. A visit to the doctor for a check-up, or to the dentist for a cleaning, even the gym for a workout, is no longer normal.

Martial arts had to adapt to this new normal, which is proving to be a big challenge. Karate, taekwondo, kung-fu, judo, aikido, jiu-jitsu, boxing, are all close quarters and contact sports. We touch, we feel, we hold, we throw, we spar at close range, breathing heavily as we do so. That's our normal. A class filled with sweaty bodies punching and kicking away was every martial artist's heaven.

Now, this new normal has erased all that, and the classes have to be adjusted to suit the times. Now we accommodate fewer students at any given time, spaced apart from each other with the instructor standing at a distance showing techniques. There is definitely no sparring but as martial artists we adjust, for the systems have existed for centuries and will continue to do so. Visions of masters of old training in solitary up in the hills come to mind. That is the essence and resilience of the martial arts.

It was normal to meet someone of the opposite sex and look forward to a romantic interlude, perhaps even take it to another level. The new normal mash that up. You no longer wonder if he or she has HIV/Aids or any other STDs, but if the coronavirus has infected their bodies. Not even a vestal virgin is safe from infecting someone, as she can carry corona too.

At least you can use protection against STDs, but what can you use against COVID-19?

“I'll make love to you doggie style only, and only if you wear a mask.” New normal.

Despite this new normal, which many of us are adhering to, there are still some who are stuck in the old normal, living their lives blithely as if the new normal is a figment of our collective imagination.

Some tried the new normal, but backslid to the old normal, as pandemic fatigue set in.

“I got tired of wearing the mask, washing my hands so often, keeping far from people. I got tired of it.”

That's where the danger lies, for those living the old normal are like potential super spreader assassins to those living the new normal.

This new normal will be with us for a while, so we'll just have to adjust to survive.

More time.

Footnote: I note with interest and bemusement stories in the news regarding mentally ill people being shot by our security forces. That's a tragedy. But let me tell you, a mad person with a weapon can be more dangerous than you could ever imagine. They have no fear, no inhibitions, no sympathy, no conscience — and have the strength of 10 men. As a boy, I recall seeing one mentally deranged person fight off six grown men as he went berserk. It's very sad that they sometimes end up being shot, but a machete-wielding madman is a force beyond belief. Don't let the movies fool you, even a trained martial artist would find it extremely difficult to restrain such a person without the risk of serious injury or worse.

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