This morning was kind of yucky. I had my first “Tella-Doc” call with my transplant team at Tampa General Hospital. This call was in lieu of us making the trip up to the clinic in Tampa, so as to avoid any possible COVID-19 exposure. During this call my doctor dropped a bomb on me. He wants me to stay isolated for the next six months. No traveling, no crowds, basically continue to live as I have been living over the last two months. In an earlier post I confessed my guilty pleasure of being isolated in my house because my introverted nature was in its glory, but six months? That is a really long time to not live as “normal”. And it is this reality that got me to thinking; just what is “normal” anyway? Two months ago, normal was going where I wanted to go and doing what I wanted to do? A year ago, normal was living with a fanny pack strapped around my waist and IV medication being pumped into a port in my chest in order to keep my heart functioning. Normal is definitely a moving target.
In 1975 I purchased my first album from the Columbia House Record Club. Well, technically, I picked it out and my parents purchased it. See, way back then it worked like this. I would receive a catalog in the mail once a month. I would contemplate all the options and I would make my selection for I was allowed to pick out one album a month for my listening pleasure. The first album I selected, in what would turn out to be a pattern that I repeated every month for the next ten years, was “Toys in the Attic” by Aerosmith. Several weeks later the album arrived via the US Postal Service. I unwrapped the packaging, gazed at the cover art, opened the album jacket and placed this newly prized possession on my parent’s record player in the living room. I cranked up the volume and then it happened. The first track, by the same name as the album, jumped out of the speakers like a wrecking ball. As I sat there studying the album cover and feeling my chest thump with ever stroke of the guitar, my life was changed. And so was the life of my parents. It wasn’t long until I received the gift of my very own record player for my room! I had never heard anything like this before. I had never had music affect me in such a profound way. I was nine years old and I was formally introduced to Rock-n-Roll. I knew that it was going to be a long term relationship.
And that’s my point. Just a few hours prior to that moment I was in school, playing with my friends, eating my lunch, riding the school bus, just like normal. I had no idea of the new normal that was about to enter onto the scene. In a blink of an eye my normal was forever changed. Now understand that I am not some crazy Aerosmith groupie, but what Toys in the Attic did was open me up to a whole musical world that I had never known existed before that moment. This led me to Rush, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and countless other artists who helped to define my normal for the rest of my life. In one moment everything changed. Just like this morning, on that call, in one moment everything changed.
Please understand that in no way am I trying to compare the coronavirus pandemic to the purchase of Toys in the Attic; other than to make the point that change happens in an instant. Change, by its very nature, is transforming and it can strike in an instant. When change does come you have a choice to make. How will you respond? Earlier today I didn’t respond well. I thought of everything I wasn’t going to be able to do. Two vacations that we had already booked, two weddings that might be in the cross-hairs, the ability to successfully carry out my ministry (and then the words hit me like a ton of bricks) as normal. It wasn’t until I walked into the living room and my daughter and her friend were listening to Toys in the Attic, not the album but the playlist on Spotify, that it hit me. The change that I am facing because of COVID-19 is no different than the change that I experienced that day back in 1975 when I rocked out to Aerosmith in my parent’s living room. The only difference is my perspective. I liked that newly discovered genre of Rock-n-Roll, I don’t like being under self-quarantine for the next six months. In both cases my normal was changed, it was simply my reaction, my perspective, that was different.
Who knows, maybe in a year I will be writing one these here blogs about how being in self-quarantine for six months was the greatest thing that ever happened to me? Maybe I am in the midst of a brand new Toys in the Attic moment, I just don’t realize it yet. For, if I am being honest, the nine year old version of me didn’t realize anything profound in that moment, other than really liking this new music. It took me forty four years to realize it and make a connection in my life with what is my current reality.