Here In La La land and at hospice we have these little gizmos that you stand in front of before entering a space. They do some sort of a temperature scan and pronounce you “normal”. I have got to get one of these for home and keep pressing it to prove to my wife I really am on the right side of sanity. On second thought it probably wouldn’t work.
I got to cogitating about this whole normal thing. Who invented it? Is It some computer that clicks on when you go one way or the other over the line? Perhaps it is a stuffy group of people that meet once a month to decide what is good and what is bad….in their eyes? Can’t say for sure.
Normal is defined as conformity to a rule or standard. It is usual, average and by some measure, healthy. Whether it is body parts or mental acuity they line everybody up and develop some median of the way people, economies and things of all sort should behave.
I guess this is why they developed statistics on everything from batting averages to stock averages to body mass indexes. This is okay for reference but in reality it is a contrived concept. They are merely numbers but when transported to you and me they often take on a deleterious effect.
We seem to love to have guard rails. Acceptable behavior. How else would we keep score? How else can we figure out who is in and who is out in our particular part of the universe. It becomes the basis of our expectations and if people or things do not measure up, then they are stigmatized and possibly ostracized.
It becomes an obsession for parents as they not only want their little Jane or John to conform but to excel. Who the hell wants to accept average? They spend hours and vast amounts of money to make sure their progeny at least keep up with the rest of the world and hopefully surpass it. You are told our child had wonderful talent and possibilities. We form Great Expectations and are shattered when realty hits home.
It drives our love of things. We want to fit in. We want to be acceptable. We adapt and change our bodies and minds to please society. We develop a social identity, not necessarily our own. If we are not within the lines we are deemed different, disabled, or sick. But is that the real us?
Enter the individual. How horrible! Leonardo DaVinci is one of the great examples of this deviant behavior. He would question everything and at least try to compose an alternative explanation. Not to be a pain in the ass but to say that is the way he wanted to live his life. He looked at things differently. He did not set out to be a genius. He just figured out how to let his mind go. The rest is history.
He wouldn’t make it in today’s educational system. He might take a week or a month on some concept with his students. He would argue the teacher does not have all the correct answers. He wanted to know what you thought in your gut and not what was dictated by the pablum of rote.
We feel uncomfortable in these situations. We are SUPPOSED to act this way or dress this way. You are too old to be doing that. Your ideas are crazy. What are people going to think of you? On the other hand is it in any way acceptable or healthy to live your life behind a facade of so called propriety?
If I were perfect I would be white, upperclass, suburban, straight, physically chiseled, mentally complete and with 2.5 kids. Do you know anyone like that? I don’t, but we think we do or at least want to be just like that person. From that derives prejudice and stigma. The unwashed masses. Stay away lest we be tainted. Who died and left you the gatekeeper?
Perfection is nirvana. If I don’t have it I must be able to buy it, take a pill for it or find some surgeon who can create it. It literally drives people nuts trying to achieve it.
The most common symptom of depression is a lack of self esteem. I am unworthy. I can’t be good enough to be loved. If we wonder why people take drugs or binge on booze look no further than a world that wants to tie individual personas in knots. Am I being hyberbolic? I think not. What say you?
Up until about twenty five years ago I strove to be in the right place at the right time. I wanted to be in the club and to say and do the right things. Dare I say, be normal? After a great deal of introspection I discovered that it was more fun to just be me. If I fit in the mold then that was fine. If not I could find my own way and not sweat it.
I did not want to tear down society but to have it serve my purposes rather than the reverse. I am outspoken, not to put someone down but to say I don’t think this or that is quite right. I know it causes some to feel uneasy but if I really believe in something shouldn’t I stand up or should I just acquiesce in the name of amity?
The real bottom line is whether or not you speak your heart ? Are you truly genuine or do you worry about how that will look? Being open is a tad scary but also a lot of fun. You don’t have to think your way through every move or word. Normal is a vague notion not a strict construct. I happen to think it is overrated. How about you?
Ted The Great
Who has 2.5 children? In all my years I have never experienced a half child.
Behavior: the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others. There are thousands of books on the topic from social to economic to consumer behavior. Don’t be so smug when you think you have it figured out. I sure don’t.
Etiquette: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. Emily Post made a fortune by her “Rules of Etiquette”. Manners, especially good ones are wonderful, but when you get carried away by proper this and that it seems a bit stifling.
We have had New Normals about 1000 times in my seventy five years on this earth. Just when you think you have normal down it changes again. It is stupid thing called life. BTW: I have also been through at least a half a dozen elections that were the most important in the history of these United States. Pax.