Monday, July 6, 2020 -
Print Edition

It’s not normal

It’s as if I’m at the baseball park and wonder where I am.

It’s not that I’m losing my mind.

I know I’m at the baseball park — but why am I here when I want to be somewhere else?

This is the question I’m asking as I’m sitting in my chair at home and praying. Why am I here?

I’m staring at my bookcase. Next to me is a piano. The washing machine is right there in the next room. This is a synagogue? I’m praying: Let me pray where I want to pray. It’s like asking the guy who’s fixing my flat tire to fix my flat tire.

What I’m really praying for is: normal.

Getting back to the synagogue is normal.

The truth is, my prayer is not really about prayer.

It’s about something bigger. It’s about getting back to something that, it is necessary to admit, will never exist again: “normal.”

It’s not normal to pray in my chair next to my bookcase across from the room with the washing machine.

It’s not normal to walk around with a face mask.

It’s not normal to disinfect my phone every morning.

It’s not normal to fear going to my favorite King Soopers because it had a COVID outbreak.

It’s not normal to wash my hands before and after filling up with gas.

It’s not normal to enjoy my food when so many are suffering.

It’s not normal no longer to pick up my shirt from the cleaners the same day.

It’s not normal to find time to do some painting around the house.

It’s not normal for my wife not to see her close friend, who lives two blocks away.

It’s not normal to wonder, where are you, you evil bug, you dastardly killer? Why do you hide? Present thyself! It’s not normal not to see you and defeat you.

It’s not normal not to touch my face.

It’s not normal not to go to a home for a shiva call.

It’s not normal to ask, “How are you?” and really mean it.

It’s not normal to feel that life is back in the Black Death days.

It’s not normal to debate, “open up” or “don’t open up.”

It’s not normal for millions of people to lose their jobs overnight.

It’s not normal to recite Yizkor alone.

It’s not normal to strategize, as in a war game: Can I cut down on going to Store X because maybe Store Y, where I need to go anyway, might have what I need in Store X?

It’s not normal to learn of friends — stricken, hospitalized for weeks, or suddenly dead.

It’s not normal read a sign on the floor telling me I have to stand here.

It’s not normal not to sneeze.

It’s not normal to wait in line to enter a store.

It’s not normal to radically revamp my exercise routine.

It’s not normal to wonder, is the court (the restaurant, the museum, the zoo) open?

It’s not normal to have a hand sanitizer sitting everywhere.

It’s not normal to see trillions spent as if they’re pennies.

It’s not normal not to pay in cash.

It’s not normal to see the world through plexiglass.

It’s not normal for out-of-town friends scheduled for a visit not to visit.

It’s not normal to celebrate a nursing home that didn’t have a plague.

It’s not normal to witness a political campaign without a campaign.

It’s not normal to see blossoms of spring and practically overlook them.

It’s not normal to hear little kids talk of things way beyond their years.

It’s not normal not to see a doctor for a serious problem.

It’s not normal to slowly forget what normal was.

It’s not normal . . . but, it is.

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News



Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor | hillel@ijn.com


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