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Saturday, February 4, 2017

What exactly is "normal?"

Near Normal

There exists for each life on Earth a set of inner doors that no one can go through for us.”
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening)

The topic of what constitutes “normal” is a constant thread running through every conversation these days. “That's just not normal,” we say. We seem to think there is a world barometer that points, like a compass needle toward the north star, to what is supposedly normal. My friend, Isie, and I were talking about this just yesterday, while side-stepping and arm-waving in the therapeutic pool at Lakeshore on our Medicare Silver Sneakers passes, about various family dynamics within our own broods, and that of neighbors and friends. We concluded, being wise-old-women and all, that every family (and nation) has its own challenges, and there is no constant called “normal” with which to compare them. Challenged, dysfunctional, different IS normal.

And why not? Each of us comes to this Earth-plane with our own set of issues. Sometimes, we are born with them—limitations of physical or mental functionality, for instance—and sometimes they happen as a result of the time and place of our birth. I was born in post-war Appalachia, and my upbringing was very different from a child born in, say, New York City, or Ethiopia. The influences of poverty or wealth, working class or upper class, race, religion, education, values, to name just a few, determine our definition of what is normal. There is no one-size-fits-all.

However we identify our individual challenges, whatever means we choose to confront them, or not, they are with us at birth and will be with us at death. They are our tasks to wrestle with in this lifetime. We can avoid, supplant, displace through endless activity, run like a spooked rabbit from them, but they will remain, sitting quietly in the background, waiting for our attention. And, the universe will faithfully keep dealing the cards we need, the experiences we require, to address those issues. They are doors that only we can walk through, and once we do, once we summon up the courage to confront what is true for us, and true about us, we are very near “normal.”

                                                      In the Spirit,


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