The New Normal — With Professor X

We may think that we have lost our normal but, in all truth, it could be more fitting to say that we’ve only been reminded of what normal really is.

Okay, so it’s not THAT Professor X.

A Borealism article that had been published in February, which featured controversial figure Graham Hancock, has resulted in an unwillingness for certain academicians to contribute their insights on forthcoming pieces.

While some have flat out refused to contribute, citing Graham as their reason, others have respectfully agreed to collaborate under conditions of partial or complete anonymity.

Professor X is one such individual, allowing me only to specify that he is a currently tenured professor at an Ivy League University on the East Coast of the US. Unfortunately, I’m not able to explicitly state his department or his expertise, but this can be implicitly assumed from the content below.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

— Heraclitus

What is normal? Scratch that. What do we consider normal to be?

If you asked most of us, we’d likely be quick to say that we’re losing all sense of normalcy as we find ourselves locked down, self-isolating and social distancing in the face of an unprecedented and confusing threat.

But have we really lost our normal?

It could be said that chaos is normal, that entropy, disorder, and turmoil is normal, just on a far different scale from what we’re used to.

And who are we to even decide on what normal is? A fortunate generation of people who, for the large part, haven’t really experienced war or famine, calamity or devastation in its innumerable forms. For us, this surely isn’t normal, but in many ways, it should be.

“Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases.”

— Stephen W. Hawking

Galactic collisions, ice ages, solar flares, tectonic plate shifts, asteroids, solar flares, famines, wars, recessions, diseases — microbiological pandemics. It can be said that there’s nothing normal about the world we inhabit — that everything exists in a state of flux or decay or disruption.

From Heraclitus’ River to the Chaos Theory, many philosophers and physicists alike have clung to the fundamental theory that our reality exists as an unruly pandemonium, all emanating from the big bang itself.

So how do we make the most of this knowledge? Why bother to acknowledge or discern or brand our reality one way or another?

In the mind of Professor X, it seems we ought to acknowledge the chaos around us because, well, ignorance isn’t always bliss.

“Comfort can be a very dangerous thing if we stop appreciating it and begin to consider it as part of our normative routine. Complacency — that is what we need to be especially weary of… [that] is what can kill us faster than any external calamity”

— Prof. X

This isn’t necessarily anything new of a revelation, especially of late as more lifestyle trends sought to elucidate a more Stoic and contemplative way of living — mindfulness, anti-fragility, reverence. We know not to take things for granted but it’s not until many things are taken away from us that we can really begin to experience an adverse effect.

Professor X went on to describe the fact that we inherently seek comfort, that we’re always chasing after convenience in a society that has tailored consumerism towards such demands — dangerously overlooking resilience and adaptability because, well, there’s no need to adapt. It doesn’t become truly detrimental until we begin to substitute our faculties of contentment and fulfillment with an insatiable desire for greater convenience.

“[We’re] now seeing life and reality through a less filtered lens. Sports are gone, social activities are gone, consumerism is mostly gone … What do we have left?”

— Prof. X

As we sit in social isolation, we undoubtedly begin to reformulate new conceptions of what’s considered to be normal. Our fundamental routines and ways of living have changed, with no sure indication that this change will be temporary in nature.

So how do we reconcile these various changes with what we’re currently experiencing into something that we can understand and make use of? How is any of this information helpful to begin with?

It all ties into self-awareness and adaptation.

“We know that we have it in us to psychologically adapt to whatever our circumstances are. Say you take a wealthy man — like the few we’ve seen of late — strip them of their opulence and stick them in a penitentiary … [The] initial shock that sets in will dissipate and eventually he will get used to his new reality … It’s built into our psyche, gifted to us from evolution itself … [a] remarkable thing to appreciate and even more remarkable to understand.”

— Prof. X

The more aware we are of ourselves as we transition to and through new echelons of normalcy, the easier those transitions will be; the more we remain committed to consciously assessing or self-actualizing, or merely observing ourselves, the better we can adjust and thrive.

We may, and likely will, experience various degrees of necessary turbulence. The more we expect it, or the more we seek to analyze it, the more we can weather it out.

It’s an equation as old as we are, a truism that has largely worn itself thin to the eye-rolls of those who do hold a relative mastery over their own conscious development, but it’s perhaps something that should be over-emphasized than under — a drum that should be beaten into oblivion. Especially in a time like this.

We may think that we have lost our normal but, in all truth, it could be more fitting to say that we’ve only been reminded of what normal really is.