The Covid-19 pandemic has a mortality burden of almost 5 million people, between January 2020 and October 2021. That is a huge number of human lives to be lost, can’t argue with that. But if we consider the wider context, we may view this number in a different way. For example, more than 220 million other people have had the virus and have recovered, and the mortality risk has fallen dramatically by now. In Italy, where one of the biggest tragedies unfolded, more than 14% of cases resulted in death during the summer of 2020, whereas in the summer of 2021, this percentage decreased to less than 3%. This is a result of the learning curve, where we learned to cope with this highly infectious virus and became very good at combating it. On the other hand, the WHO says that more than 15 million people die each year from heart attacks and strokes, conditions which are linked to behavioural patterns such as poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and alcohol abuse. That learning curve is progressing in a much slower pace, yet no one is talking about the dangers of sitting at home right now, drinking and smoking the day away. In fact, for months and months (and intermittent periods still), this was advisable.
Viewing things within their context therefore gives us perspective. Normalizing allows us to see situations objectively and assess them with critical thinking, rather than echoing whatever Margot said at the hairdresser’s. And it’s not just for geeks.
Getting perspective in life and the act of accepting facts we cannot change gives us freedom from judging other people and from caring when other people judge us. Normalizing in everyday life means getting the grip of the reality we live in, rather than the one each one of us envisions for ourselves; it means we quit our own blindness to whatever we dislike and find a way to accept that for others, it is business as usual. A list of things that can make your life easier, should you decide to normalize them in your mind’s eye:
1. Religions: what makes one better than the other? Nothing, really. Some people are Muslim, others are Christians, Hindu, Jewish, whatevs. There are so many varieties within each of the main dogmas, that you can get lost counting. By accepting that other people believe in different prophecies, prayers and saints, the world will not collapse.
2. Chubby fellas: food is what sustains people and one of the great pleasures of life, which can be just as good if you’re having it alone. Let them eat cake!
3. Birkenstocks with socks: I don’t know if anyone does this for fashion, and since there’s no personal experience here, I can only presume it provides the ultimate comfort for certain periods of time.
4. Marriage: traditionally considered to be a norm in western civilization but is actually a tricky situation, as opinions vary as you get older. You may criticize this social contract in your 20s but fully desire it by the time you’re 40. It’s never too late to change your mind, but it’s much easier to do so if you’re chilled about it.
5. Gay marriage: there was this podcast with two gay dudes and they started talking about a friend who got married recently, not mentioning whether he was gay or not. It was so damn refreshing. As long as there is cake, count me in.
6. No marriage: as far as I am concerned, there can also be cake without the actual contract. Being in a relationship doesn’t always mean you have to follow through with a wedding, as long as there is mutual understanding and healthy foundations, couples should be able to progress any way they want to.
7. Exercise freaks: yeah sure, some people exercise just to conclude with a 15-minute photoshoot of their pumped up biceps. Others need it to function though; if they don’t have an outlet they can be a menace. Even if it is followed by instagram stories, life is simpler if they get it all out right there and then.
8. Farts: not one single person alive has been able to avoid this forever. You may be able to hold it in just long enough to move away from a crowd, but eventually it will escape. Let it be.
9. Slow drivers: even if they’re going under the speed limit, there may be good reason. Feeling anxious about it and honking at them will only create more stress, for everyone involved. This is the probably the hardest pill to swallow, but we must.
In the spirit of full disclosure, below is also a list of things that should never be normalized, no explanation needed:
- Sexual harassment
- Loud noises in the morning
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Uncooked chicken
- The odor of sewage in your house
- Warm beer
Written by guest author Beerover and edited by Joank.