Father Ed Commentary: Unrehearsed Acts in the New Normal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Little by little, we are learning to redefine the word “normal” in our lives. Actually, I think the phrase is “new normal.”

In recent months, Stambaugh Auditorium and the DeYor Performing Arts Center have been cooperating on many levels and helping each other guide their way through the new normal. 

Similar initiatives seem to be happening in our region, especially in Warren and some adjacent communities. It is so encouraging to know that people are talking in ways that sometimes should have happened years ago but just didn’t for several reasons, including ultra-competitiveness and turf wars.

In many realms, new possibilities and new discussions are somewhat spur of the moment and usually happen because of an openness that is, in my opinion, unrehearsed. Don’t get me wrong, proper preparation and rehearsals are an important part of our lives, but spontaneity also brings us wisdom at times.

A few Sundays ago, the YSU Dana Ensemble held a concert in the Ford Recital Hall of the DeYor Performing Arts Center. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon, and all the COVID precautions were in full operation, and then some. During the well-known and popular “Emperor’s March” by Strauss, one of the violinists inadvertently knocked some of the music from her music stand. It was quite something to watch her continue to play – probably from memory and with a bit of help from her guardian angel – and not seemingly miss a beat (or many notes). 

It was equally surprising to watch the violinist next to the young lady make the moves necessary to retrieve the music, place it on her partner’s stand and continue herself, almost as if it were rehearsed – which, of course, it was not. Throughout this unrehearsed part of the program, I was lucky to be sitting close enough to both of them to notice that their eyes “spoke” to each other throughout. It was quite amazing!

The following morning, I was picking up some coffees at our local McDonald’s.  I wasn’t in a hurry but did notice that the car in front of me seemed to be at the drive-thru window for quite a while. Admittedly, I looked in my rear-view mirror and noticed the person behind me had some facial expressions that displayed some grief. Also, admittedly, I was starting to get a little annoyed. 

By the time I arrived at the window, the young lady on the other side told me that my order and the order behind me were paid for by the car in front of me. It seems there was a slight malfunction with the coffee pots and there was a run on coffee. You can imagine that, as I drove away with my McFreebie, I felt a tad guilty for being a little annoyed.

The next day, I headed out early in the morning to do my grocery shopping and encountered a gentleman who was collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot. I probably should mention that this grocery store is not one of the larger establishments that has shopping cart return islands scattered around. When I finished shopping and was paying for my purchases, I mentioned to the cashier that the cart collector outside was courteous and helpful and “have a good day” happy. 

She told me that he’s not an employee, that he is a regular shopper there, that he keeps his distance because of the virus and that he comes early on his shopping day to do a little goodwill ambassador outreach before getting his own groceries.

Those are my Sunday-Monday-Tuesday unrehearsed examples. All different but all not part of the routine. Even in the midst of the pandemic, we probably have all come up with our daily pandemic-influenced routine. In the midst of all the uncertainty, the unrehearsed moments – or whatever you would like to call them – have actually been a more appreciated, I think. 

As necessary distancing, masking, washing and vaccinating have made their way into our daily lives, the unrehearsed moments seem to be there to give us a boost. Some brief reflection can probably remind us of some of our unrehearsed initiatives that benefited someone else and gave us a sigh of “that was nice” in the midst of our day.

With daily life getting more and more to the new normal, it’s good to know that the unrehearsed has its part to play on our journey. Make no mistake, our schedules, rehearsals and plans are very important. The pandemic response plans have literally saved us. It’s also good to know that the unrehearsed parts of our life, including the violin music retriever, the McDonald’s patron benefactor and the shopping cart collector are part of the new normal that keeps us normal.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.