What is Normalcy?

I’ve been thinking a lot about normalcy lately. What is it? What does it feel like? What is the word for the opposite of it and why isn’t it being used more?

In that introspection, I’ve decided that normalcy is not something I can anchor to emotionally. It’s a concept fraught with shifting variables and uncertainty and, related to this moment, it asks one to trust in the face of invisible threats.

However, our collective hopes for future interconnectedness and social progress need not be dreams deferred by a novel virus. Normal may not even need to be an aspiration. For instance, I’m continuing to learn about the baggage of normal from my arts colleagues working in the disability community.

Without consider for what’s normal or not, I invite you to join me in thinking about ways we might be able to navigate our world as it is now, toward a future that seems as foggy as ever:

Investigate the work of EmcArts, specifically their resources related to adaptive leadership and advancement through ambiguity. Through their resources, I’ve learned how system tension can be generative and how innovation can be achieved through small, radical experiments.

Tell stories of economic impact: fill out a survey, document your wins and losses, share news about your employees or colleagues with a local storyteller. Our sector, like others, needs aid to recover, and the concreteness of sharing what you know to be true in your enterprise can arm advocates focused on degrees of revenue degradation as determinants for deploying aid.

Analyze language for opportunity given that, for zero dollars, it can launch us into futures of limitless possibilities or put us in mental traps of the past. For example, I wonder if even the word “re-opening” (as opposed to just opening) harkens images of past patterns.

Help others grieve and gain strength. During a Friday happy hour call, a friend shared their plans for a virtual vigil to help isolated community members release and recharge energy necessary for healing. It felt empowered.

As I look back at that list, the actions are small-scale and not tactical recommendations likely found in the Harvard Business Review. I do though trust those actions over time, converging and growing into momentum that carries us boldly and brightly into dim spaces.

Take care.

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