Meditation: Normal

Normal is a word, we have been hearing a lot of lately.  Can’t wait until things get back to normal.  What will the new normal look like?  Will we ever get back to normal?  Normal is defined as, conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Most reporting in the media is optimistic, that we will return to some kind of normalcy.  The way things have gone lately, that seems hard to believe.  We seem to be in a never ending spiral of flattening the curve, with little reduction in the number of cases, on a day to day basis.  In fact, it is rather freaky, how each day, seems to be about the same, in each state, on the number of cases per day. In the 22 days of May, there have been 17 days, where the new cases have totaled between 20 and 26 thousand per day, in the United States.   Three days, there were over 26,000 cases, but two of those were the first two days of May.  There have been 2 days under 20,000 cases with last one being May 17th.  For 17 out of 20 days, the new cases have not varied by more than  2 to 3 thousand per day in the entire country. There are 18 states where the number of cases are decreasing but 4 of those states were some of the hardest hit, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.   There are 8 states that the cases are increasing.  People keep talking about a vaccine, but even the most optimistic estimates are at the first of the year, and that’s with no set backs.  How likely do you think that is, when trying to make a vaccine for a disease, that we don’t totally understand, yet. So what are the chances of seeing a normal life in 2020?

I would say slim and none.  That does not mean, that we will not be doing a little more than we are doing now, but for this year, this is what I think will not return. Fans in the stands.  Team sports, if they are played at all this year, will be in empty stadiums.  Restaurants will not even be close to normal, if they even  open at all.   Waiters with masks on, my appetite is disappearing as I type.   Youth sports  are done for this year.  Mall shopping will be at 20% volume.  Air travel will be lucky to be at 30% capacity, especially since they showed how irresponsible they have been, by packing planes and risking people’s lives.  Hotels and motels with be no better.  Travel in general, will be way down, for the entire year.  Jobs will be non existent, in the above areas.   Staying at home, and having a good time with known friends and family, will be the new normal.  Hopefully, there will be some live sports to watch on television.  In nice weather, there will be some outside dining to be enjoyed. But life as we have known it, is officially gone. Get use to it.  Make the best of it.  Wear a mask if you go into a place of business.  Maybe summer will help in defeating the virus. I think there is more of a chance of a treatment than a vaccine that may help get us back to our previous life.  There is only one thing certain at this point and that is the virus is ruling the country for the next 7 months.

For now, meditate and be appreciative for what you have.  Good health, and well being, and hope that the people closest to you, stay healthy.  Even with this new normal, life can be good.  There is joy, in just being outside, and breathing some clean air, and the air is a lot cleaner, since everybody has had to stay home. People will have to adapt, and find a new way to make a living, in many cases.  This pandemic has and will make life difficult for the next  12 to 24 months guaranteed. The great depression lasted 11 years and we have people now, that can not or will not shelter in place for 3 months, for the health and safety of the nation.  Normal now, will be sacrifice and suffering both economically and medically and there is nothing that can be done about it.  It’s time to buckle in and hang on, and hope that things don’t  get worse.  For now, the virus is the new normal but hopefully not super long.  Take a deep breath.

Meditation: Patience

Patience is defined, as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. There are three different situations, where patience has to be applied.  You need patience with yourself.  Sometimes, you will need to have patience with love ones, close acquaintances, and fellow workers.  Finally, you will need to have patience with the world and humanity.  Does having patience help your life?   There are three areas where you must have patience. Sometimes these situations can be related.   Delay can lead to trouble, which in turn leads to suffering.  At other times they can be separate entities.  If you do not handle these situations with patience, what are the alternatives.  Can a lack of patience in some instances be beneficial.  Let’s look at patience as it fits in with the relationships you have.

Having patience with love ones, and close acquaintances, while at the time may be difficult, it can be an end point in dealing with some perceived problem in your relationship. Patience comes into play when someone you know is doing something, or not doing something that you disagree with.  You may, or may not give them advice about the situation, and they may not take it, even if you do.  Patience is needed to allow them lead their lives the way they want to, despite what you think.  There may be situations that you think people are not doing their job, or doing things that you find annoying or irritating.  Patience is needed to deal with some of the more mundane things of day to day living. This is what I mean by saying that patience is the end point of the process. What’s the alternative to patience in these situations. There are many choices you can make in both situations.  Remember if you abandon patience, and decide to make some kind of change in the situation, whether it be with a loved one, close acquaintance, or at the workplace, you will be making a drastic change in your life. Like any change the consequences could be good or bad.

The second place patience has its place is with the world and humanity. Right now this pandemic is stretching people’s patient with their government. They are trying to get their life back to some type of normalcy, and get back to work, while maintaining their health and the safety.  Patience is needed when any big organization is having a negative impact on your life.  It may be waiting in line for a long time,  the delay of a flight, or a stay at home order.  In day to day dealings it may be where a company is not providing the service that you think they should. In all of these situations there are not a lot of options but there are some.  You could get out of line.  You could vow never to use that airline again.  You can defy the stay at home.  You could could take legal action against a company or individual that did not provide a service. All of those actions may or may not be a benefit in the long run and may cause you even more problems.  It is a major decision, when you decide that your patience has run out.

Finally there is patience with yourself.  This by far, is hardest one to deal with.  You can not leave yourself.  When you set goals or have day to day things you want to do and fail, patience is your number one friend, if you can apply it.  Any time you get angry or make a poor decision due to a lack of patience, in any of the above scenarios, do you have the ability to have patience with yourself, so you might be able to forgive yourself and move on from your transgressions.  The irony of all this, is your trying to have patience with yourself, for having a lack of patience.  It really boils down to living in the past.   You can not change your mistakes, no matter what the cause. You can only move on, and try to treat yourself kindly and hope that you will do better in the future.  Remember as you apply this technique to yourself, that it may be wise to apply this to other people you are losing patience with, or to the world around you.  Patience is considered a virtue and it is.  Patience can only take you so far, but it will take you farther than you think.

Food: How Did It Get So Important

Food is a necessity.  Without taking in food, you would die in about 6 weeks or less. We all have to eat.  You do not even have to eat healthy, to survive.  You must supply your body with fuel, to function. In the modern world, food is much more important than that. Food is associated with events and activities.   Popcorn at movies, Peanuts, cracker jacks and hot dogs at baseball games, the hot dog at turn, in golf, and cake at birthday parties.   Food has a whole day devoted to it, called Thanksgiving.  If the Pilgrims only knew what they started, they would have given thanks by only drinking water.  Even at the most casual get togethers, like playing cards, book clubs, and watching sports on TV, the host will feel an obligation to provide some food. So how did food go from becoming a necessity, to becoming the part of almost everything we do socially, to the point that sometimes it is the main event?  There are lots of ideas about the subject, and all the things that food can do, to make any social event better, and how much it shows you care, by providing food, and lots of it, at an event that you are hosting.  But no where is there any mention, on how this process all came about. There had to be sometime in history, where people got together to do something, and food was no where to be found. But there seems to be no documentation of this.  Even very old movies, made in the 1920’s show people gathering together, and eating and drinking, in almost the same way, that we do today. Naturally I have some theories, and there is very little data elsewhere, to dispute it.

It all boils down to the rich and famous.   There was a time in our history, particularly during the depression and World War II that food was hard to come by.  Even so, if you had money, then food was plentiful.  What better way for the rich and famous  to show how much money they had, by serving lots of  food at any big social function.  As times got better and food became more plentiful, and less costly, it was a way for the middle class to be just like the rich and famous, by having food included, in any social event that they were going to have. Plus, it was not a problem for the rich to distance themselves from everyday people, by other means.   Today, with the corona virus taking away all social functions and contact, food has become less fun.  We have returned to the day, where food, now is just a necessity, that we have to cook for ourselves, and whoever we are sheltering in place with.   Once this pandemic is over, I am sure food again, will take its place as the center piece of most any social function.  The way things are now, it is hard to believe that this will ever be.  We are a more open society today, than we were 100 years ago. Today, you can have quite a diverse group of people getting together for fun, food, and a good time, wherever that may be.  Food is taking a back seat, as the pandemic is moving on and on and on.  With so many questions on what will happen, concerning the virus, food has lost a lot of its importance.  So, no matter what started  food having to be at the center of all social events, these last two months have shown, that it is something that is ingrained in our beings, and is not helping us get through this crisis.

Hopefully, we will again, be able to enjoy food with our friends and family, in the not too distance future.   Food has been a big part of the human experience for a long time. This pandemic could affect how we enjoy and feel about food, for the rest of our lives. Let’s hope that we can all get through this, with as few emotional scars as possible, and that everyone we know remains healthy and safe.  As things begin to open up, I hope there will be no major setbacks in the near future.   I can smell those hot dogs already.