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What’s Normal? (Part II)

Recently, I got off on one of my pet subjects – this business of being normal. I quoted the well-known author and expert, Ardis Whitman, and pointed out that to be normal is to be ourselves – it is not to be what is called average.

“A normal human being”, says Joseph Wood Krutch, “is something rare, not common, not what the majority are, but what a few of us actually live up to.” How reasonable that is!

After all, if to be normal is to be like most people, then joy is not normal, nor genius, nor the ability to see reality, nor the pursuit of truth. If, on the other hand, it is to be healthy in body, mind and spirit, to do what it was intended we should do, then to be normal makes sense. It is something a good person can care about; an intelligent person can follow. So, when people use the word normal, let us stop and think what they really mean. Do they mean living at capacity, or do they mean average?

Ardis Whitman goes on to write: “Let’s be responsible, too, for our own lives and stop fearing what other people will say about us. I know a man who was a partner in a prosperous fur business. He devoted his life to it until he was well into his fifties. Then suddenly he decided that what he wanted most of all was to teach. So, he abandoned his well-paying work and went back to college. Did his friends say he was foolish? On the contrary. Everyone applauded.”

And I’m sure there are lots of people keeping themselves from worthwhile things they’d like to be doing, just because they think they’re being normal not to do it, because none of their friends or acquaintances are doing it. The truth of the matter is that they would be normal to follow their own natural inclinations, since no two people are alike, and they’re being abnormal in copying their friends.

One of the most amazing things you can discover in studying nature is that no two things in nature are exactly alike. Every person on earth has a strong point, an inclination, a talent, even hidden genius for something. And the most exciting journey on earth is the search for this ability in ourselves. Once we find it, life takes on new meaning and excitement. And when we develop this ability, our friends will frequently say that we’re different from the general run of people. And so is every individual in the general run of people, if he or she only knew it.

Being normal is being ourself – not trying to be someone else. And the most interesting and exciting people, the people who do more, have more fun and live more, are those who know it – who have found the deep wellspring of ability within themselves – and have given it an outlet in their lives.

Sometimes you’ll hear a woman say when looking at another woman, “I wish I were like her.” Balderdash! You’re just looking at her strong points, which is also a hobby of mine. But you’ve got something she hasn’t got. Find out what it is and develop along the lines you were intended to develop. When you’ve done this, a lot of other people will wish they were like you. But they shouldn’t. Being normal is being what we are as individuals.

A lifetime is a journey. It can be an insufferable bore if we try to follow the path of others in an attempt to conform. It can be a constant source of delight and interest if we can find our own path. It’s worth looking for.

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