#271 – What’s Normal?
My secretary brought me an article from the magazine, WOMAN’S DAY, written by Ardis Whitman, titled, “What Do You Mean, Normal?!” And in this article, I think Miss Whitman makes a very important distinction and that is… if we’re to be the best we can, normal must not mean average.
For example, it is in the normal nature of things that no two human beings on earth are exactly alike.
So, the word normal should be not be confused with the word average. If you leave your fingerprints on something, you might just as well leave your name and address – no other human being on the face of the earth has the same prints.
You hear music and see a sunset differently from any other person. You might enjoy a book that would bore your wife or husband. You might like lots of people around, and your husband might like it a lot better when there’s just the two of you.
When you say, “I want my child to be normal,” you don’t mean average, and you shouldn’t. What you do mean Is that you want your child to grow up as a distinct individual – a part of society, to be sure – but with his or her own individual abilities and talents, likes and dislikes.
So, to be normal is not to be average, its to be different. We may think we know everything about our friends and neighbors, but we don’t. We don’t even know ourselves – how can we expect to know others? The smiling small talk and sharing of small intimacies with our so-called good friends, does not reveal our true selves – nor does it reveal theirs. We present one face to the world, as a rule, and another one to ourselves.
There must be millions of people who feel worthless, just because they’re not like what they think they see around them, and half the people they see and talk to feel the same way. They’re not worthless at all – it’s just that they’ve never really understood themselves enough to realize that we’re not supposed to be like everyone else, because no one is. We’re supposed to be ourselves and realize that we’re distinct individuals.
As Ardis Whitman points out – what’s normal? Take a look at the great ones; Socrates one day stood for hours in the snow, oblivious to wind and cold, working out a timeless problem in philosophy; Churchill calmly walked into the bedroom of a President of the United States with only a towel draped around him; Einstein apparently could go a whole lifetime without giving a thought to whether or not he needed a haircut. Are these people normal or freaks? They’re normal – that’s the way they do things, and that’s normal for them.
If you try to confirm to the crowd, you’re not conforming at all, really, you’re making a mistake. You’re trying to act like people act on the surface. It isn’t you, and if you really knew the people, you’d find what you thought they were like might be a far cry from what they’re really like.
What’s normal for you, for me, is not easily discovered. It’s not a question of being adjusted, being average. It’s not found by looking around at the other person. It is found by looking around at the other person. It is found only by inward searching, by the knowledge of who I am, not by the knowledge of what my neighbor does. Each of us is outstanding in some ways – being normal is finding them out ad enjoying them.
It’s a fact that each of us is a mystery and a miracle. What a shame it is to try to paint over the miraculous mystery of ourselves a likeness of someone else. To be normal is to be ourselves – never average.