Normal is a Continuum

For my paternal grandmother’s birthday, or for Mother’s Day one year (I do not recall which), when I was just a little kid, my father bought and delivered her very first microwave oven. I had no idea what it was or what significance it had, but she emphatically did not want it. She liked doing things her way, the way she had always done them, and she did not want to change. After quite a bit of resistance, however, she acquiesced and excepted the gift.

Over time, my grandmother actually grew to like her microwave very much, especially for how easy it made things for her. She used it for all types of things, but mostly for vegetable side dishes for Sunday dinner for the family. I still remember her pulling steamed broccoli or mashed turnips out of the microwave while my grandfather carved meat on the counter. Those Sunday dinners, when we all gathered and ate together in her tiny little kitchen after church, are some of my fondest memories from growing up.

What is interesting to me about that microwave and my experience of watching my grandmother resist the technology in her home is that, prior to that moment, it never really occurred to me that the world could change. More so, the world could change in a way that some people were deeply uncomfortable with. After time though, the discomfort passed, the change was accepted, and a new normal was established as if things had been that way all along. I watched this transformation take place and it fascinated me. Still, I remain resistant to change.

 Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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