Our New Normal

by Rick on November 24, 2020

(Sunday 11-22-2020 after a week in the hospital)

I awoke in my bed at home half-an-hour ago and am in the kitchen, sipping coffee, eating an English muffin (which I toasted, buttered and jammed myself), writing, again, at last.

Except for the slight pain below the six inch incision meandering gracefully around my belly button and the parade of pill bottles on the table marching past my coffee mug, the casual observer might say I am back to normal. But if this is normal, it’s a new normal.

A week ago I was lying in a mechanical bed connected to cylindrical tower (clearly designed by some guy who loved Star Trek) with a half-dozen bags of liquid hanging above me like… like strange fruit.

The plastic tubings running down from them to needles stuck in my arms inhibited movement even more than the pain in my stomach.

This new normal gives the canvas of my life a new sheen, washed, as it is now, with a week of experiencing the continuous dialogue of life and the deep fragility of my own.

I am the product of the cooperative effort of a marvelous gang of organs intricately organized to make sure each member of the team will play the part it needs to play. When the cells in my brain deliver their commands—second by second—this team springs into action just so I can go on trying to be whatever I’m supposed to be.

Each of these organs is composed of billions of tiny organisms, cooperating to make sure that everyone is getting enough oxygen so each team member can do its job,… so I can do my job.

This last week my brain had a new experience. As this brain kept going on, as usual, sending out orders right and left, about jobs needing to be done, every member of my gang sent back messages (some gentle and kind, some twinged with annoyance and others with downright rage):

Be quiet!!!We have more important work to do now than to listen to your notions.

 Yes. In fact, we are taking over. You just lie down and be quiet and let us do what we are trained to do, which is to keep each other alive. When we tell you to sleep, you sleep. When we tell you to pee, you pee.

 Yeah, Stop interfering. Don’t you realize what we are up against here? There may be billions of us, but there are billions of other little bastards trying to eat us.

 Yeah, In fact, we would like a little more respect.

 We would appreciate it, if you would just relax, take those pills, and be happy that that doctor saved your life by coming in here and getting rid of those little bastards that are trying to kill us.

 Please, just be quiet. Maybe, you should spend all that surplus energy of yours developing your listening skills.

Well, I’m listening. I am home, now. Sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and writing, having experienced the yin and yang of life and death.


As I read over the above. I realize that what is true in my body is true in the body of a family, a community, a nation. In the last four years, a cancer, a cancer that has been lurking in the body politic of America since its founding, a virus that cares only for itself, attached itself to the vital organs of our government, destroying as many as it could as fast as it could. But, those organs were composed of millions of individual organisms who fought back in whatever ways they could–resigning, resisting, reminding, reporting–and the election this month and its aftermath showed that the organs are well organized, and in good partnership with each other.

We are home now, in need of renewal and rebirth,
“so that government of the people, by the people, for the people
shall not perish from the earth.”


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Lauden Crosley November 24, 2020 at 11:34 am

Well said. As this year comes to an end, we have corners to turn, personally and as a society. I hope that America can heal as well as I know you will.
Just as the team of cells in your body worked together, they worked with another team – the incredibly competent medical team that fixed you up. Wielding scientific expertise, each with their own individual genius, they worked their magic, giving your body the chance it needed to do its magic.
This is why I too see hope ahead: with a reborn respect for science and expertise as a society, each of us can flourish without the dead weights of denialism, racism and fear. We can move on now, together.

Rick November 24, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Well said, Mark.

HARTMUT FISCHER November 24, 2020 at 12:39 pm

I am just so glad that you are healing. All your friend and your family are cheering you on and the nature is waiting for your care. Thank you for your wonderful writing.

Paul Pressman November 24, 2020 at 12:53 pm


Might it return?
Please tell me what it was/is.


Paul Pressman

Brian Hicks November 24, 2020 at 1:50 pm

I WAS going to say “Well said” but it seems that one has been used already (2x).
Certainly the election result was a profound relief. And it seems that the rest of the world is willing to give us a second chance (thank you, world!) And, of course, the ‘us vs. them’ mentality still exists. My latest curiosity is about why and how this deep polarization over what is True persists… without just blaming and dismissing ‘them’.

Brian Hicks November 24, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Oh, and I didn’t say anything about your cancer. Nothing much I can say, except I sure do wish you the best!!!

Jenny Cowgill November 24, 2020 at 8:19 pm

So relieved you are home and healing, Rick! What a thoughtful and apt analogy for what has been going on these past four years. Like your billions of organism working to keep you healthy it takes all of us working together, doing our part and stepping up to ward off what threatens to take us down. I too have hope that the future will he brighter.

Sue November 24, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Yes saying Hi and wishing you well!!

Rick November 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

Thank you, Paul. Seems my melanoma has come back (never left?) and this time attacked my digestive system.I’ll be going back on immunotherapy (which worked–but maybe it didn’t work as well as I thought.)

Larry Arnstein November 26, 2020 at 5:55 pm

So glad you recovered, Rick! Had no idea you were sick, much less very, very sick. But, you’ve recovered, just as we, as a nation, were very sick, but recovered. There’s a piece of paper on my fridge with every day between now and Jan 20, 2021. I cross off each one before I go to bed at night. I am so happy we got rid of this terrible sickness to our body politic, but also appalled that north of 70,000,000 of us voted for the sickness. Maybe we are still paying for our original sin as a nation, which was slavery. We will be paying for that one for forever. Stay well, Rick!

Rick November 29, 2020 at 8:49 am

Well said,, Larry.The virus lurks in our system. We need some sort of immunotherapy.

PETER November 29, 2020 at 9:31 am

Rick, Here’s a little musical inspiration for your journey. Peter


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