May 25, 2009

Day 9 Community Support- Normal?

“Normal”. The “n” word.

Is that “normal”?

I think it is “normal”.

God! I hope it is “normal”!

Funny thing about the word, if you say it quickly 20 times, the word no longer sounds normal. So what does that say? If even the word itself ceases to actually be what it claims to define? Do you think all this talk about the word normal is “normal”? Is there something wrong with me? Is it normal to get so focussed on one little word? Well when the word has so much power I should say so!!

I lie in bed this afternoon watching a TED video by Helen Fisher. I found her book Anatomy of Love, recently in a thrift store. I will be honest, I haven’t read the book cover to cover, just snippets, but Chris is reading it. I know this because he keeps following me round the house, book in hand, assuring me, with a hint of astonishment, that we are normal! The book explores the natural history of monogamy and makes some pretty bold statements that are far from popular. In the video Helen speaks about antidepressants ruining ones ability to love. I have some friends who have given in to taking these drugs just to feel “normal again”. I wonder if they even realize they are messing with their ability to form attachments; their ability to love? Life without the intense feeling of love seems so sad to me. I really do believe love is the single most important thing there is. I reached out to a friend today, in love, we haven’t spoken in some time. He reached back, then for reasons I can only guess at, ran away...again. I came home and cried. It hurts to love and be rejected. I know that the rejection had NOTHING to do with me, but somehow this didn’t make it hurt less. In a moment of painful sadness, I thought “What is wrong with me?Why do I love so strongly? Why do I reach out in love to others so often? Is this normal?” It was after this I watched Helen Fishers video. I wasn’t looking for answers, more like distracting myself from my weepy heart, but along came an answer anyway. The results are is in folks, and they are normal.

I have no fancy segue into today's community talent, though I can tell you he appears to be normal. He is Thomas, I barely know him. I don’t know what he does with most of his day, whether he is married, has a brother, or likes coffee. I do know he is fiercely dedicated to running our local Contact Improv Jam, and that he continues to show up week after week, even when the numbers are small. Contact Improv is a really hard thing for, I would say, MOST people. It involves touching another human being, usually one you don’t know very well, and accepting that neither of you has any idea what happens next. It is the ultimate in letting go of control, at least in the beginning. Once you begin to get used to it there is more control in that you know you lived through it last time and likely will again. I am sure this description is making you all want to run out and join a class! The upside? Well the upside is hard for me to explain because it is a deep, soft visceral feeling. Connecting with another human being with such vulnerability is rare outside of the bedroom. When participating in contact improv the goal is to touch, to tap into the movement of the other, no leader, no follower, just a subtle energetic back and forth. It is a close as I have come to proof that we are all truly ONE. When I relax, let go of my thinking mind, use nothing but senses, then magic happens. I can explain it to you this way; have you ever had a moment ,say, on a beach at sunset, or while surfing, or at the sight of a child's smile where you knew beyond any doubt that God existed? But when you try to explain it words ALWAYS fail? That is the experience I have felt in contact improv. The kicker is I didn’t experience it alone, I experienced it with another, a stranger. I fell in love on the dance floor. This doesn’t happen every time, but it does happen. Knowing this possibility is what gets me through those awkward moments of rolling round on the floor with a sweaty stranger, wondering “is this normal?”

12 days journal #42 was given to Thomas. “Do you think of yourself as normal?” is the question written inside. While writing this entry tonight it occurred to me that Thomas, not knowing about this experiment, might wonder why I gave him a journal with this written inside. I sent him an email assuring him the question was not directed at him specifically, I am very interested to get his response!


  1. I think of myself as normal. I never used to. I wanted to be different, bizarre, enigmatic. I have come to realize that I am normal. I have also come to realize that normal doesn't mean to me what it used to. To me, normal was a place of mediocrity and the banal. Normal meant a slow painful death in some suburb. Normal was having a four door sedan, drinking Kool Aid, going to church and having a dog that matches the curtains.

    Now I know. That's just messed up. Normal is what I'm doing. Normal is not living up to some contrived ideal, it is being me. And since I am one of god's creations, I am normal!!! I guess.

  2. Do you think of yourself as normal? No. but dos this give me an advantage? potentially yes if I can use it, otherwise it might be better to be normal. At least one might have a less stressful life. When I go into a place fullof people like the coffee shop i inevetally feel that i must make some effort to be reasonably normal,a nd looking back i realize I have done that so much that I have suppressed a lot of individuality and opportunity to be with people in a meaningful way. Hmm, don't like the sound of that.So I'm going to allow myself to be more authentic even if it means being less normal, that's worth it.

  3. A quick Google on the subject reveals that normal is simply a general adherence to the average. Abnormal being a deviation from the average. Average being an entirely statistical notion... statistics a pseudo-science operating entirely on the "scientists" choice of what and how to sample. Given the extraordinary diversity of lifestyles on this planet, the idea of distilling human behavior to a norm seems entirely academic, if not vaguely absurd. Therefor, I am only as normal as the subsample of humanity I choose to compare myself to. If I don't like the results, I can simply redirect my statistical gaze to a group more likely to match MY average. Ah, but this assume I (We) crave normality. But what of us who thrill at being different... the undeniable rush of being extraordinary. And this is where my anonymous little rants comes to close. We are only as normal or extraordinary as we choose to be. ("choice" being a very much easier-said-than-done matter)

  4. And that is why you are not normal, and are at the same time!!! Yay.

  5. I sort of agree with anonymous. I don't generally think of myself as anything but just ME unless I find myself in a group where I don't feel like I fit in, in which case I feel like I'm not normal. I feel very DIFFERENT from most people, but that does not automatically equate to "abnormal" in my opinion, either.

    Have you ever noticed how the "normal" mood people expect you to be in is absolutely neutral? (My experience guys are in a totally different environment, it sounds like.) When I was going through my divorce, people were uncomfortable around me because I was down, down enough to not be able to hide how down I was. People avoided me. Now, I'm incredibly happy and blissed out and energetic, and once again, people are uncomfortable around me and avoid me. It's not "normal" to be so happy, or so down...I should just be "normal."

    No, thanks. I would much rather be authentic and true to myself. If it makes others uncomfortable, too bad. Life is too short to get bogged down in the teen-angsty "how come nobody likes me?!" crap. My attitude now is either people like me or they don't, and there's nothing I can (nor should) do about that. Period. :-)