The male, rufous-sided towhee did not get the notice, or he forgot to re-set his clock because I heard him this morning in our back garden while it was still quite dark. Under the lime hydrangea, he scratched and called, at first a lone bird in the last dark of night.

This is the first morning of our bi-annual attempt at controlling nature by changing our clocks. By this simple falsification, we feel that we have gained control over nature; that we are making better use of our time.  But the towhee, and all the other birds that soon joined him in our back garden to greet the day, know how to live by the cycle of days and seasons.

During my second cup of coffee, I thought of how humans keep trying to control the forces of nature. Take for instance, the pandemic: We have used shut-downs, face masks, social distancing, and other measures to help curtail the dreadful and deadly disease. We now are beginning to vaccinate folks, and medical experts are hopeful that we soon will be through the worst of this awful pandemic. However, over the past year we never quite recognized the limits of our talents because we still carried on in certain ways as if the sunset of our days was not near.  As a tribe, we battled for our lives to be “normal” in as many ways possible, but especially in sports-at all levels.

The desire for our lives to return to where they were in March 2020 is understandable. However, during this past year I have been surprised and disappointed in our efforts to maintain a sense of normal. We have marched on in the sports arena as if the pandemic is not a danger to us all. Sure, restrictions have been enforced and some seasons even cancelled. But enough folks have continued on as if they are impervious to the virus. For instance, some states have continued to allow large gatherings such as the Super 32 high school wrestling tournament which was moved from Greensboro, NC (its home for twenty years) to Myrtle Beach, SC. The blessed March Madness was cancelled in 2020, but the male 68-team bracket for 2021 was just published. Life goes on. Maybe.

How valid are all of our attempts at remaining normal, allowing our lives to go on as usual when the very threads of our lives have been frazzled? For instance, two of the men’s’ basketball teams had to forfeit games in the ACC tournament because of COVID-19 infections. Six teams in the just completed EIWA Wrestling Tournament did not compete because of the virus. In such a curtailed sporting environment legitimate or just a mirage of what we wish it were? We go on as if over 500,000 folks have not died during the past year. We continue pushing as if everything is as it always has been, or as we wish it to be– which is a classic example of denial and/or idiocy.

Perhaps we need to be more like the male rufous-sided towhee. Yes, we must battle diseases and other ills by using all of our talents, but at the same time maybe we should learn to accept some forces of modern-day life as more important and powerful than our “normal.”  If nothing else, we should have learned during the past pandemic year, that we are not in full control, that there are forces stronger than us. “Normal” may never come again, just a new version of what was.

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