The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
View From The Handlebars 

On This Christmas


December 23, 2020

There was a time we would already be hiding presents, guarding the tree from the family pet and double-checking our list of guests and what they will be bringing to the feast of all feasts. We would be worried about having enough ham for the number of guests, and if Uncle Tony will make a fool of himself again There was a time movies like “Jingle All the Way” were more of a docudrama than a funny story of misplaced values. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when employees hurried home Christmas Eve to ensure all last minute details are addressed before Christmas Eve services, and ready for Christmas morning.

Uncle Tony, meanwhile, and his son Rufus, are told what not to talk about at Aunt Mary’s. Be nice to the host and don’t talk about politics or religion, and especially the presidential election.

That was then.

The COVID response has done a lot to how we see the world, and how we react to it. Some of it is probably needed change, while others… well.

A phrase that is coming up is “accepting the New Normal.” The implication is we need to accept the limitations put on us. We need to accept health awareness has a different definition, and may for a considerable time into the future. I have to admit the “New Normal” phrase makes me curious. When did the world become so sick we have to fear each other? Some of the responses I see and hear remind me of early science fiction I’ve see and read. I watched a movie many years ago, I think it was called Buck Rogers although it was nothing I had seen before or since, where people lived in a sanitized metal environment, where people were constantly monitored down to every moment and thought and trying to escape said environment was the worst of heresies. When someone escaped civilization, they were chased by officials in what appeared to be limited-cell electric cruisers. They were sprinters; full out for a short distance and stop to recharge.

Then one person broke free to the surface with officers pleading for him to come back. He steps onto the surface to find the reports of a poisoned atmosphere and lifeless planet were just… stories.

I’m also curious when American society lost its desire to take risks and live dangerously. How far would the colonists have gotten if they were afraid of the risk of death? Um, probably not past the first London pub with sailors telling stories of boats swamped in storms, sea monsters and days and days with no land in sight, not hearing the man on the other side of the room who endured the days turning to months and finding a mysterious new land.

What is this new normal so many talk about? My desire is the new normal includes valuing each day, watching out for our neighbors, being less concerned with longevity and more interested in quality. Maybe along the way we will remember that the length of our days is not for us to decide. There are countless stories of people who are constantly in an exercise program; running in the morning, swimming at lunch, weights after work and watching every calorie consumed. And their lifespan is not necessarily any longer than the couch potato. It is, however, depending on the attitude, more fulfilled.

What if the best gift we can give ourselves and those around us is to live each moment as if it is our last? Don’t live remorsefully. Live as if you are holding a saturated sponge and focus on squeezing everything out of it possible, down to the last drop.

If new normal is the coming phrase and not just someone’s baseless soothing of fears, why not take it as a challenge to reach the end of life satisfied you drained all of the juice out of it possible? The alternative is to have a long life of vanilla, captivated by your own fears.


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