Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?
I’m not quite sure I can say. It reminds me of something Meg Tilly’s character, Chloe, said in the 1983 movie The Big Chill. I’m going to change her word happy to normal.
I haven’t met that many normal people in my life, how do they act?
Okay, this may be something of an exaggeration, but it has some truth in it as well.
First things first, what does one mean by normal. Even if, (we’re take it hypothetically), there is a “normal”, what do we mean by it?
For example, we could mean by “normal” a standard, an established paradigm that expresses one’s (whether that be an individual, a family, a community, or an entire nation) expectations for behavior, mores and so forth.
If this is how one takes it we may say it is not “normal” for a person to walk down the street stark naked. Or, it is not “normal” for a person to order a leg of lamb at McDonald’s.
Then again, we could take “normal” to mean something slightly different. We could understand “normal” to mean unoriginal, boring, status quo, uneventful and the like. If this is the definition we use we could say a couple of things about normalcy.
A person may lament he/she is tired of doing things the “normal” way. By this, she would mean she’s tired of a dull, bland pattern of behavior or activity in her life. She may try to come up with a more exciting or unique way of doing this or that. This is often where originality and creativity come in and inspires a person to think outside the box, so to speak.
Of course, even in this sort of meaning of “normal”, we may not fully appreciate its benefits until we experience something that disrupts that normalcy. For instance, a man thinks of his daily grind and ritual as boring or uninspiring and wishes for something to happen to shake it up and bring some adventure and excitement into his 8 to 5. Then, the next morning, he gets side-swiped by an absent-minded driver . . . hello excitement! Now, inevitably, he wishes his normalcy had stayed put!
After all, when it comes to such things as heartbeat, blood pressure, eyesight, bodily functions, weather . . . etc.; normal is preferred.
Having said all that, I’ll once again borrow a quotation, but slightly change the wording to fit:
Normal is in the eye of the beholder.
It really seems to me to depend on what meaning of normal we are considering. Are there certain instances where I prefer “normal”? Absolutely. Are there other times I like to go outside the lines a bit? Where I prefer the eccentric, a more eclectic approach? No doubt.
Of course, we don’t always have a say in such matters. But, I think to say that adhering, or even enforcing, a “norm” is wrong or restricting is a naive argument. Originality is great. Creativity is something to be encouraged. But this is not the same thing as chaos. It is not the same as throwing off any and all forms of normalcy. This is not liberation; it is anarchy.
What if, for example, tomorrow people started applying their own rules of the road? Some stopping at traffic lights when they are red, but others roaring through a red light. Some people deciding for decency and dressing before they leave their houses, but others going out wearing nothing but a smile. On and on we could go.
Again, I think it depends on what we’re discussing and how we are applying the definition.
It is wrong, I think, to use “normal” as a way to demean someone else. If someone doesn’t fit or live up to our standard, then we label them abnormal or weird. Normalcy should not be used as a weapon of bigotry or harassment.
As with most things in life, I don’t see it in black and white terms; but rather, grey. In some instances, normal is great. In others, I try to be as abnormal as I possibly can.