Living through Covid-19 and all the talk about getting back to normal reminded me of a time not so long ago. In December of 2016, I experienced a terrible fall on ice, which resulted in a fractured hip and femur. Louie was as traumatized as I was, through the journey of falling and consequent surgery. He had to adjust to my being gone for two weeks; friends coming and going, walking and feeding him, playing with him; all while he constantly watched the door with the hope I would walk through it any minute.
Once I was home, he learned to trust my erratic movements with a cane and settled back into some interesting habits: growling at people who come to my door (even his dog walkers) and jumping on the couch to sit directly across from me (better to watch me, he said).
One evening, a friend came by to take Louie for a walk. After they finished and she came in to sit with me for a while, he ran through the house, checked on me, and then ran upstairs, where he ran the length of the hallway several times. Then, I heard a big commotion, and from where I was sitting, I could tell what that little rascal was doing. He was getting into my clothes basket in my bathroom and taking all the clothes out of it, having no consideration whatsoever for the amount of time it took me to get the clothes into that basket.
But this was not surprising. When it took all my energy to walk from the living room to the kitchen, disciplining a dog was not high on my list, especially since we’ve been through this before. The pressure was off of Louie to behave well—and when the pressure is off, he reverts back to his old habits.
That is so like us. When the pressure is off, we revert to our old behaviors. I reflected on what this meant after that fall and getting “back to normal.” When I was able to drive, I finally had a sense of life getting back to normal. Getting off medication, walking better, and looking forward to some normalcy were great goals for recovery. But did I really want normalcy to be my goal? After my fall, I was clear I did not want to go backward. And coming out of this pandemic, I challenge each of us to do life differently.
Let’s be intentional (keeping the pressure on) about breaking past the norm to live a well-meaning life by doing the following:
- If we’ve learned nothing else since COVID-19 came on the scene, we all know now—relationships matter! Take a look at your activities, objects, and where you spend time. See what can be pruned and devote precious time to those who matter.
- Be kind in thought, word, and deed, whether people deserve it or not. I don’t mean just merely being nice (and sometimes superficial and phony) but be authentic and loving—speak truth in love and show those who differ from us, or have differing viewpoints, compassion that only comes from being a loving person.
- Take time to listen in order to learn from others and value them—people matter!
- Be still and have plenty of margin in our lives.
- Laugh more. Love intently.
Be intentional about breaking past the norm. Life is too short and too easily interrupted for us to stay stuck in the status quo. And you are never too old to take that first step to crash through the “same ol’, same ol’.”
As for Louie, we will always have work to do. I suppose being intentionally kind will be continual with little Louie DiStasi!