New Normal

In a grim classroom, a little boy fidgets at an empty table. He steals a glance at his friend – six feet away and plugged into a chromebook – instantly realizing the incommunicable state of affairs. His restless soul, taut with a quickly diminishing supply of boyish energy, depleted from habitual restraint, betrays his weary mien, fatigued from burdens he was not designed to bear. His eyes dart around the room, snapping permanent images of zombie children hunched over next to him, finally resetting on his own screen. A teacher paces slowly from table to table. “Jackson, put your mask back over your nose, please. Don’t make me ask again.” A languid arm reaches up and summons a hand to slide the dispirited, dirty cloth back over its hook. 

The new normal. 

Divisive school board meetings nationwide over mask mandates, particularly for children, are just the latest evidence of a continuing battle over the establishment of a new normal. The self proclaimed sympathetic voices, dressed up in empathy but clamoring for necessary, but temporary (ok…) increases in authoritarian measures gather on one end of town halls to shout, through masks, at a supposedly uneducated and uncaring conglomerate of ‘freedom fighters.’ One side believes they embody Mother Theresea, and the other has equated themselves with Paul Revere. One believes their missionary duty is to preach the new normal gospel and save the lost, while the other imagines themselves leaning against the wall of Gondor, holding off the battering ram of the CDC. Metaphorically speaking, Fauci would obviously be Gollum. 

If you step back from the fray, it appears our greatest fear ought not be the fruition of an Orwellian new world order or the death of our children. (By the way, I’ll let you decide which is more likely of those two and stay out of the vitriol.) Rather, it is the unleashed transparency of secular society’s ultimate authorities, the definers of “normal” to begin with, recklessly running to their logical ends, that concerns me the most.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how educators and students have deftly adapted to Covid-19. As far as surges go, I’m not pining for an increase in resiliency from kids, coaches, administrators, or parents. I’m familiar with the human capacity for endurance and agility. 

… I’m also aware of humanity’s tendency to make adjustments and worry about the price later.

During my senior year at Concordia College, my “normal” included running 90-100 miles per week as a captain of the cross country team, practicing my trumpet three hours per day as a member of the concert band, writing weekly love letters to my fiance, and managing a full academic course load. Maintaining this regimen was enjoyable and sustainable, since I didn’t have to concern myself with kids, a house, or food. When I left the confines of the college cocoon, a monastic environment as identical to a professional athletes’ as I’d ever enjoy again (which I knew), I had to adjust to the new normal of being married, living in a different state, and working my first real, grown-up job. Instead of letting my environment dictate my life completely, I held fast to my firm, foundational convictions – the definers of my priorities and determiners of my goals. Instead of giving up my music and athletic ambitions, I amplified them. Training increased. Study increased. Time with my wife increased. 

It didn’t come without cost. Initially, I remember an exhausting adjustment to new routines and habits. I could feel my entire physical, mental, and emotional self being broken down and built back, trained into the new way of life like strands of muscle learning a movement. My athletic dedication left me with essentially no social life, and at one point, also no body fat, which was dangerous. Three additional moves and four more job changes – and now a new baby – have granted me opportunities to continue perfecting this process. Introspectively dissecting the exact toll and wide ranging impact on myself and those around me is beyond the scope of this article. Instead of hypothesizing butterfly effects, let’s hone in on a key truth: when we or society are forced into being flexible, the compass we are using to guide the way matters. 

The self-authenticating, God-breathed Scriptures have been my compass, and I’ll gladly open up to share a few basic truths which have served me well. The vision to work as if working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23) provided a sufficient reason to continue pursuing excellence in sports beyond college. My priorities have been established by the command to love the Lord with all my heart and soul and obey his decrees (Joshua 22:5; Matthew 22:37). Loving my wife and leading my family with Biblical masculinity, spiritually and financially, is my most important earthly calling. In summary, the structure of my plan to address any circumstantial upheaval which could lead to a microcosmic “new normal” has always been in accordance with God’s Word. 

Can we say society has a similar playbook? To be discerning citizens, we ought to examine  secular religion’s ultimate authority. Hint: it isn’t Scripture. But, whatever foundational premises are guiding their decisions, they will define what normal is, and when followed to their necessary conclusions, indicate what the “new normal” will eventually become. 

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

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