Is there anyone out there who is truly normal? I mean this sincerely. ‘Cause if there is a human in the universe who fits this description, I want to know them. And while we’re talking about this subject, what is normal? I love talking to people. I love examining people. I often compare myself to people. My conclusion, as a result of all this self-propelled analysis, is that the word normal should be completely wiped from our vocabulary. There is no normal, people. We are all served up on a platter of crazy, accompanied by a side of dysfunctional. Nobody is all there, all the time. And what a relief it is to finally feel, well, as completely, utterly abnormal as everyone else. Different, yet the same.
I have had the exquisite privilege of knowing and socializing in circles made up of diverse groups of people throughout the duration of my life thus far. I grew up the daughter of a Baptist minister, for starters. Some of the craziest people I know walked through the doors of our church. Sinners and saints. You are bound to get a little dash of crazy when you mix those two together.
I remember my Dad telling the story of the day he saw two new congregants sitting next to one another, near the front row of the center aisle. My father, wishing to introduce them to the church, asked the attractive young man visiting our church for the day to tell a bit about himself. He proceeded to do so, and then sat down. My father, realizing that the equally attractive lady who was sitting next to him had not yet been introduced by the gentleman, so my father asked, “Are you going to introduce your lady friend?” The man looked uncomfortable and embarrassed, but shook his head to indicate “no”. “Why not?,” asked my Dad pressing for further detail. “Because,” he replied, “I have never met her before.”
My Dad- studious reader of the “moment,” with a penchant for knowing the pulse of his congregation. Flustered much?
We never did see that guy, and unfortunate young lady, darken the doors of our church again.
Our family has had its fair share of awkward moments over the years. Being in the limelight, we never knew what it was to be just a normal church-goer. While other kids flew under the radar and were able to do sinful things like miss church and go to the movies, we were busy practicing a vocal number for my Dad’s program on the local cable station. In our spare time, we entertained the myriads of evangelists and sojourners who happened to cross the threshold of the parsonage wherein we lived. We actually built a shower for one poor man, who was afraid his obesity would wedge him permanently in our tub. The church came up with the dollars needed to build a stand-alone shower stall, and he continued to provide his excellent singing services for our church.
Our family was never really normal, and that was mostly okay. I just figured we were the only ones not normal. It was not until I became an adult that I realized no one is immune from being labelled “crazy”. We are all strange and different in so many, many ways.
We often, as citizens of the human race, wish we were more like certain people, and those people are mostly successful in some given area. For instance, we probably have, at one time or other, wished to be a movie star or a celebrity. Or, maybe we aspire to be as successful as someone in our given field of study or work. Or we might just wish we were like the Joneses, next door. I don’t know who you want to be like, but I know that it is hard to live life without a little envy for the normalcy of someone else’s life. Their life just seems a little more normal, and less problematic than our own.
We were recently on a trip during which time we stayed with two families on extreme ends of the income distribution. One family would be labelled rich, and the other would be viewed as working class. I was happy to realize, after spending time with both, that neither has claim to the title of most normal. And both families were self-admittedly a little abnormal. How comforting to know that one need not go to extremes to achieve normality.
I have been struggling with wanting a notion of normal lately. My idea of normal is not your idea of normal. So when I say I want the normal that someone else has, I admit that this is a crazy notion on my part. For what I am really saying is, I want their abnormal. Because when all is said and done, no one can have their cake and enjoy eating it too. If I trade lives with someone just for the good parts that are on display for all of the world to see, then I must also accept the dirty laundry that this “normal” person has hanging out in their closet. The hidden things that, if they were revealed, would bring that person down to earth and make them just like everyone else.
They wouldn’t be normal anymore; they would be just like the rest of us. And that, my friends, is what normal really looks like on a good day. Someone kind of like me and kind of like you. Neither all or nothing. Normal is that which is both strange and wonderful all wrapped up in one package.
Abormal is the new normal. What a relief. Gee, I’m glad I’m no one else but me.