Normal is the presence and level of life that we deem acceptable. Normal has changed over time….and since 9/11, we are all finding new ways to come to terms with the definition of “normal.” The world believed that an array of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons would never be used on a mass scale. A false sense of security? perhaps….but this acceptance that nothing catastrophic would ever happen in our lives was factored into our perception of what we considered “the norm.” Over the past 6 months what we have learned is that what we once thought was highly unlikely, is now a distinct possibility. Daily on television, one expert or another reveals what a nuclear weapon can do, where it could do the most damage, and lo and behold, how to construct one. A “dirty bomb,” which now is considered the weapon of choice for terrorists, we are informed can easily be put together and detonated. Yes, indeed, “normal” has changed.

I could not believe my eyes reading an article yesterday where a military expert said that a dirty bomb could kill thousands, and without blinking an eye he said these are “acceptable numbers.” What would not be acceptable to him would be a nuclear attack which could kill millions. Okay, let me get this straight….I have to factor into my definition of “normal” the possibility that it may become common news that dirty bombs will be detonated more than once? The expert also mentioned that in this day and age people will have to learn to live with the possibilities of suicide bombings, dirty bombs, etc. Some people have had to live with the reality of this kind of life for years. This is new to the people of the United States. On a personal and public level, we try daily to maintain some level of balance in our lives…..a lifestyle we can cope with, which fuels growth and improvement. When change is entered into the mix, we absorb it, and recalculate our vision of the norm. In the not too distant future, who knows what changes are going to have to be absorbed by us?

Through all these changes, we will go on. Just like we get over losing loved ones, going through divorces, and finding new jobs. We do go on. The most important point to realize is that there is a bigger picture….that as we go through changes we must learn from them. I believe one of the most meaningful elements of life is to become a better person. As scary and chilling some of the events of the past few months have become, they have helped us grow, and become better people. We don’t quite look at life the same way, or take people’s kindness and good gestures for granted. We too have incorporated this into our level of “normal.”

Jennifer Avalon
© 2002 Jennifer Avalon

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