What is Normal Anyway?
Given the current state of the world at the moment, where everyone is scrambling for a sense of normalcy, it's easy to become overwhelmed and start to panic. With so many people out of work, so many businesses that have been forced to close and so many others that are sick and dying, normal seems like a pretty difficult thing to focus on. As millions of people are sequestered in their homes waiting for things to balance out, some people have flourished while others have not. There are people who took up a new hobby, learned a new skill or finally cleaned out that closet in the hall and discovered that's where that missing vacuum attachment went. Which is great! However, it's also nice to understand that that's not how everyone is handling things. For most people, they have never been put into a situation like this before and just had to try and figure out how to survive. Well, some of us have...like when Obama was no longer in office and Trump was elected, but this is not quite the same thing. It's kind of like heading to work one morning with your designer coffee in your hand only to be abducted outside the office, driven. to a helicopter and flown to the center on Ilha da Queimada Grande, you know that island off the coast of Brazil with thousands of venomous snakes, and told good luck as the helicopter flies back to the mainland.
But how does one define normal? The actual definition includes words like: usual, standard, expected or typical. If that's the case, then the world we live at the present moment has nothing normal about it. Yet, there are some things that have become normal, that shouldn't be. Trump as president and the things that fly out of his mouth and the decisions he makes, murder and oppression of minorities, hate crimes, senseless gun violence. They happen so often, we as a whole aren't terribly shocked anymore when they do. So how does a society with so many different people with so many different perspectives and backgrounds decide what's normal? Who gets to decide that and why? People in power? Who get's that power and how did they get it? Why do they have it? Should they have it? Why do so many injustices continue to be accepted as a way of everyday life?
I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory the other day and I laughed at many of the scenes laced with jokes that I didn't quite get as a child, or understood better as an adult. For example, the man who was entering information into a supercomputer to determine where the last three golden tickets were. When the computer responded via printed message, it said, "I won't tell. That would be cheating." After a nervous smile, the man begins to punch buttons, slightly more aggressively than before, as he says, "I am now telling the computer that if it will tell me the correct answer, I will gladly share with it the grand prize." The computer prints another message and the man reads aloud, "what would a computer do with a lifetime supply of chocolate?" He lets out a nervous giggle before acrimoniously poking his response into the computer as he sneeringly says through clenched teeth, "I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do with a lifetime supply of chocolate!" While we don't really have a supercomputer to ask how to craft a vaccine for the coronavirus, I imagine most people are also hammering questions into their own cellular supercomputers looking for answers. When will quarantine end? Is it safe to go out to eat? Why is Trump still in office making decisions? Can I get covid through my eyes? When will things go back to normal? Like in HBO's Girls when Hannah Horvath Googled "stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms" when she was concerned about STIs. If the coronavirus has shown us anything it's just how fragile everything in our world is. Is that a good or bad thing? It could be both. Perhaps it's the world's way of saying "Fuck off, I'm over your bullshit, get the hell up out my house!" Or maybe this is a painful wakeup call that they way we as humans have chosen to live isn't really working, isn't sustainable, isn't healthy. There are many answers here, but who is to say which answers are right and which ones are wrong? I surely don't claim to have one. However, maybe the best that we can all do is try to re-evaluate how we live, even if it's on the smallest scale. Even the smallest act can change something drastically.
If everyone is different, is there really a normal? Perhaps what we need to consider is how precious and important acceptance is. Acceptance of others, of ourselves and our emotions. Not everyone is going to think how you do, not everyone lives the same way as you do, and that's okay. But if it isn't harmful to anyone or anything, what is that harm in letting it just be? I went on a date a few years ago with a guy who I instantly knew I had nothing in common with from the moment he arrived. Except food. We both appreciated food. After delving into the one thing we shared, he started to pass a lot of judgement on pastry chefs I knew in the city, rolling his eyes at their desserts. He talked a lot about his job and how he liked food but could never do my job (pastry chef at the time) because he wanted to make money. I saw him out a couple weeks later and his eyes avoided me as if he were going to catch my poverty just from standing within a few inches of me. Is that normal behavior? Probably for many people. Should it be? Probably not. I don't like to assume that people never change, hell, I change my opinion on things all the time and I would hate for someone to hold me to something I said or did in the past that may or may have not been taken out of context.
So in the middle of all this uncertainty, it's okay if you don't have all the answers, or any answers for that matter. It's okay if you don't feel normal. If you have found yourself blossoming with creativity, growth and abundance...great, I love that! But it shouldn't suggest that is to be expected...or that it's normal. Avoid comparisons to other people, especially the plethora of social media influencers that aren't always necessarily influencing the right messages. Life is hard, especially now. Life is hard even when it's easy. Practice acceptance, do your best. Nothing great happens at the speed of light, things take time. But things always change. Life will eventually stabilize, although it might not look anything like what we expect. Not all change feels good. But like Angela Chase said in My so-called Life, "Even rocks, like, erode."