Breaking the Inertia of Normalcy

Mouth-watering? The only thing I find mouth-watering is my morning coffee about which I’ve written probably 25 times by now. Seriously, I think I’ve written every possible blog post by now. Currently I’m drinking this:

Reality right now is so weird that I don’t know. I probably say, “I don’t know” a million times a day and think it even more. I realized how much of life depends on the belief that there’s something good just around the corner. That means 1) you go around the corner, 2) you never lose that sense of expectation. Thoreau wrote,

“We must learn to…keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Maintaining this expectation is difficult considering that right now there are so many things to be afraid of, any and all of which could be around that corner. I wrote at the beginning of the Covid Crisis that now we’re living a little like medieval people fearing that outside our doors are monsters, dragons, brigands, and godnose what else. Still, so far, 2020, bad as it has been, isn’t the WORST year in human history. Take a look at 536 ce.

We are — most of us — embracing the expectation that next year will be better, that there will be a vaccine for C-19 (which sane, intelligent and eligible people will all rush to get), that some of the dire political problems in our nation will be on the road to solution ( read that anyway that makes you happy). From that point we’ll be able to look backward at what we achieved during this historical moment.

I’m sure there are a lot of things. One thing I can see is people working from home or wherever — something that’s been talked about for ages. IMO that’s a good thing — specifically because of the reduction in commuting and the benefit of that to the atmosphere. Another is that parents have been forced to develop a different perspective on their kids’ education. I was amused and horrified yesterday hearing Kelly Anne Conway say kids need a “the safe structured environment of schools” in which to learn. The “safe structured environment” has, for too long, included active shooter drills.

The young parents in my own family are going to homeschool this year. In seeking approval and support from me, my step-daughter-in-law messaged me and when I asked, sent me the curriculum she’s planning to use. She’ll be working along with a woman who is also a teacher at the pre-school her kids attended. I looked at the curriculum and its philosophy. I quickly saw that I wanted to go to that school. I’d be able to teach that curriculum with total conviction.

Being forced to change like this might be good for us. I have been thinking lately that humans suffer from several kinds of inertia — inertia of hope is one of them which helps us adapt to change but not all change is good. People shooting up schools is definitely not good and the fact that we’ve adapted to it is sick. But even I ask me, “What else are we supposed to do?” In the inertia of business-as-usual it’s difficult to make changes or imagine major alternatives and how we could effect the changes needed to realize those alternatives. Maybe it takes a cataclysm to shake us from our inertia. In any case, I’ve now sewn two more little girl’s skirts and developed a stragedy for threading my stupid sewing machine.


As I was writing this morning, The Changeling by the Doors song came on WXRT (they’re playing songs from 1971 this morning) and I was struck by these lines:

I had money, and I had none
I had money, and I had none
But I never been so broke that I couldn’t leave, town.

In fact, I’m too broke to leave town. That’s fine, but that there is not, now, even the possibility? That’s the kicker, isn’t it. It’s hard for us to take the abridgment of our liberties even when that abridgment is mainly psychological. That might be a more difficult “inertia” to break, our psychological apprehension of freedom.

11 thoughts on “Breaking the Inertia of Normalcy

  1. It can’t be that difficult to teach your own kids. Most teachers only have a BA. (I have dated a few teachers) But then again I am placing ill advised faith in the American public. What a conundrum.

  2. This is the Age of Inertia (there’s another song for you…). Over and over every day. I was having a similar conversation recently with a 30something single guy who just glossed over the worry…just wait for a vaccine. Like all will be fine “next year” and life will go on. The implied hope that there is a future around the corner, which include the freedoms we had become used to. The what if? haunts me more than I’d like to admit. But you have a point. Perhaps being forced to change some aspects of life will be for the better. Good to remember. Schools are not always safe, that’s for sure.
    Also – mouthwatering is the morning coffee in my book too. Which I have written about before. 🙂

  3. Retired teacher here. It’s a lot harder than it looks. I hope that this moment of rethinking so many aspects of American life will produce reform — not just in education but in policing, employment practices, government spending, and more.

    • I hope the same. I hope we can look around and say, “Wow, we really CAN change the way we do things pretty quickly and successfully.”

Comments are closed.