The Definition of ‘Normal’

Normal: adj. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

In other words, just like everybody and everything else. But all questions of whether or not we want to be normal or not, and whether or not normalcy is a good thing aside, let us go back even further to an even more crucial question: do we even have the right definition for the word? I have had some serious doubts about that.

Leaving Normal Sign

I think it’s safe for me to say that I’ve had an off day. It started last night, when I found out that I canceled plans for the next morning that really didn’t have to be canceled, because somebody else canceled on me for the plans I had ended up deciding to go through with. If that makes sense. Go ahead and reread the sentence, if you think it’ll help.

Anyway, then today I was all tense, and it was all sunny again (I really liked the rainstorm the previous night better) so meh. And then, I dunno. I was just in a weird mood all day. And then I was entering some of the stuff I’d written for my novel Greyfield Flowers into the computer, and I suddenly realized it wasn’t flowing nearly as well as I would have liked and I was going to get stuck about a chapter later on. I could just tell.

So I looked up some more regency stuff and did some research to help with it, and ended up having my faith in humanity tested once again by a stupid blog that some lady (who is probably a very nice person) wrote. I read one post, and loved it. It was all about being true to the times and making sure you used the right titles for the Peerage and being knowledgeable about the battles and wars of the time (you can’t just assume that because the french revolution is in the same general time period as the regency era, you can just say it’s still going on when it’s not) and anyway, it was a really great post. Then I read a post about her writing sex scenes in her romance novels. In the regency era. And I was just all like ‘that’s not even true! If you write in the regency era, then you should know that people weren’t that free and easy with their virtue.’ and it just made me unhappy. Because in the actual regency era, they would consider a woman’s virtue to be irretrievable once tarnished. And they certainly wouldn’t write about someone voluntarily giving it up. And it bugged me.

And then the post I posted about ‘what made a book good’ really bugged me because frankly, I hated what I had written. I was distracted when I had written it, and so I nearly didn’t post it, but that would’ve been a waste so I published it even when I didn’t want to. And then I had to get off the laptop because a family member of mine really wanted to get on. So, it wasn’t really the most “normal” of days for me. “Normally” I’d eat breakfast early, maybe read or work for a bit, then get on the computer and write. And then I’d blog a bit, and then go back to writing, and then read. And generally just be a hermit, because that’s what I do.

But most people don’t do that. That’s not how they live their lives. It’s definitely not considered to be “normal” as is shown to me every time I try to start a conversation in public about books with anybody in my neighborhood. So why do we feel this irrational need to define “normalcy”? (By the way, thanks for just letting me spew there for a moment. I’m a lot happier now. More “normal”)

I think it comes back  to our need for constancy in our lives. I think that we, as a race, crave constancy in some way shape or form. Even the most disorganized person with the most flexible of schedules must secretly crave the constancy of their being disorganized. I know it throws me for a loop when I am forced to step out of my comfort zone when I very specifically don’t want to. I think that the same can be said of many people. And when they find something that doesn’t really fit into their world, they classify it as “not normal”. And leaving aside all of the good and bad connotations that come with the term (it really is a loaded word, isn’t it? Normal in health is good, Normal in a teen is a conflicted thing, and Normal when trying to get into college is the last thing you want) I think that even the simple act of classfying something as “normal” or “not normal” is a strange one.

Normal

Goodness knows Einstein was not normal. And even when you think he was a normal genius, one of my favorite quotes of his comes to mind:

Imagination is more important than Knowledge. (which is so true, by the way. Just saying.)

And if George Washington had been average or un-extraordinary, then where would our nation be today? I certainly don’t know. And yet, I would not say that it is best not to be “normal” or “average” or anything like that. Saying so would imply that “normal” is bad, and it’s not. Gandalf, in the recent movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, backs me up.

 Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.

~Gandalf

But I don’t think that Einstein or George Washington or Winston Churchill ever really thought of themselves as being not normal–at least, I hope not. I think they still considered themselves to be regular people, with friends, and family, and things that were important to them, and troubles and worries and everything else. And I think Abraham Lincoln would relate most regularly to people like Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.–more so than he would ever identify himself with Johnny Depp or Brad Paisley, certainly. But to many people, Abraham Lincoln was anything but normal. So what, then, is the definition of “normal”? I think I have one for you.

Normal: adj. Whatever works for you.

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