Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ramblings: The irrational concept of "normal"

I started writing this in a moment of anger after reading different news stories a few weeks ago, and after some random conversations with different people decided to try to finish it today. It remains unfinished, as do most of my ramblings, but I think that is the nature of the subject. There is no real answer.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a normal person, surrounded by normal people, living in a normal world. And then I realize that there is nothing normal about anything in this world. What on earth is normal about living in a country where religion dictates who you are or are not allowed to marry? What is normal about living in a world where a government decides to bomb part of its population into submission? What is normal about some people being able to eat copious amounts of an endangered species in one country while another country is literally starving to death? What is normal about someone deciding to walk into a school full of children and murdering them in cold blood for no real reason? What is normal about two people making fun of another person’s hair or clothes or weight or life just because they don’t consider him or her “normal”? None of this is normal, is it? There is no real “normal”, it’s all just a concept of what we perceive to be a way of living that doesn’t shock, hurt or scare us. In this case “abnormal” is everything outside of those boundaries that we have set.

This Merriam-Webster definition pretty much says it all:
a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle
b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern 

How boring is that? So basically in order to be “normal” you have to conform to something that you had no part in developing or setting up or deciding upon. As a conclusion, being normal is therefore just following the crowd; being just another white sheep in the herd. What happens if you weren’t born to follow though? What if you really were born as the odd one out, the black sheep that sticks out amidst the others. Are you doomed to spend the rest of your life trying to conform, even if you know that’s not right for you; or running away from the pack and having to live with your “differences”?

You know, this just gets more and more complicated as you delve into it. Because what is “being different to the norm”? That could literally mean someone who has different world views than most people surrounding him or her. Or it could be someone who thinks that murdering other people for fun is how life should be lived. Or it could be someone who thinks that having multiple husbands or wives is what marriage is all about. It could also be someone who believes that Satan exists and prefers to worship what is considered evil, rather than “God” who is supposed to be good. Or, quite simply, it could be just someone who wants to live their life happily without feeling that they should have to conform to something that they don’t believe in, and don’t want to be vilified for being “different”.

Back in my high school days I had an amazing English teacher whose words continue to inspire me today. He told me during a creative writing class that one should avoid using the words “nice” and “kind” as much as possible, because the English language is so abundant with words that describe something better than those two words that have practically become meaningless with overuse. I feel that the word “normal” has joined “nice” and “kind” in the category of words that don’t describe anything anymore. If I said that “the stars looked nice in the sky tonight” and “that person is kind”, would you feel any kind of interest in what I was trying to explain? However, if I said “the stars glistened in the blue-black sky more than usual last night” and “that person went over and beyond expectations to make me feel comfortable and at home”, you would probably be more interested in hearing more about both experiences. The same goes for “normal”. Technically, if I am explaining myself correctly here, “normal” doesn’t really exist, except maybe in our own minds.

On that note, I am going to continue to live my life in my usual way, however unconventional it may seem to others.

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