Wholesome Dwelling: A Higher Regular for Everybody
I am firmly and humbly on the healthy side of long-term addiction. It’s sobering to think about what I thought was normal for decades. ~ Robert Skender
Life has been a complicated and confusing business during this ongoing COVID-19 disruption compared to the pre-pandemic situation. Wearing a mask and looking for arrows down the aisles of grocery stores feels incredibly normal and now we have been told we could get bits of our former lives back.
Fortunately for me, I’ve finally found a mask that satisfies my ultimate vanity, and the rules about wearing it might end.
It was so long ago; I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth going back to yesterday’s normal without asking a few questions.
For example, what is normal at all?
Normal is defined as behavior that is expected and conforms to an established standard. So normal has nothing to do with goodness or health, neither for the individual nor for society as a collective. It’s just something we do to conform to everyone else.
Smoking cigarettes on airplanes, in restaurants, and hospitals was completely acceptable not long ago, normal behavior.
So normal is a standard measure of what is considered good, acceptable behavior at a given point in time. Even if this good behavior is bad. Yes, for me it’s confusing and contradicting too.
I am firmly and humbly on the healthy side of long-term addiction. It’s sobering to think about what I thought was normal for decades.
Chemical and behavioral acts of serious self-harm were carried out ritually and almost at night. How did I think it was a good idea to have 26 ounces of vodka or whiskey at work alone at 8 a.m.? Now I can see that back then I completely normalized self-poisoning with all that was available.
I now feel compassion for who I was and what he thought was normal. It was a choice, but it wasn’t to further confuse and contradict everything.
It was with my shoulders held and pointed at the Maple Ridge Treatment Center (MRTC) that for the first time I really focused on a normal that was worth striving for. There were about 15 intelligent, loving professionals who guided about 60 men into healthier behavior and then a better place in the world.
Most of the time, everyone at MRTC wanted a new normal to replace the destructive, violent one that they have moved away from. It felt good to be in an environment that only existed to fix broken spirits, bodies, and souls, 60 at a time, on a rotation of 30 or 60 days. There was a lot of natural sunlight and positive movement in this old wooden building next to the train tracks.
The same services are provided by selfless, educated people of Powell River. Professionals and volunteers who work for Vancouver Coastal Health or the Milkat Recovery Society focus on improving the people and the place we live in, one person at a time, one day at a time.
The new normal after the pandemic will include more kindness and compassion as we aim higher to mimic the agile goal of better standard behavior. Do I think having positive thoughts and accepting compassionate values will manifest in a better place?
A short, non-contradicting answer is: yes it will.
Robert Skender is a freelance writer and health commentator based on the Powell River.