A normal life

The greatest gift to any person is impossible to buy and very hard to attain, although it can be done with hard work. That gift is the gift of a normal life.

As our modern minds are conditioned to point out, “normal” changes with context. Normal for a war zone is collecting shell casings to trade for live ammunition. Normal in the suburbs is casseroles and board meetings. Normal in 1950 is not normal in 2012.

But that is, like so many things that we are told, self-serving for the teller. A sense of what normal ought to be is a threat to those who want to lower the standard, possibly to sell us an “edgy” lifestyle that comes at a lower cost. In fact, a true normal in which people found contentment would be a sad investment indeed, since products would have to compete on quality and not trendiness.

Normal could be seen as a description of an ideal that is not a peak, but a middle. Instead of being rich or poor, one has enough to do everything well, and then a little more for hobbies like astronomy or music. It could also be a description of the environment in which one grows.

For example, since most species have maternal and paternal units raising the young, it would involve a nuclear family with two parents of opposite genders. These parents would be intelligent and gentle people; not perfect, but not “flawed” in that trendy way that serves to obscure moral laziness.

Their normal parents would be innocents or at least could pass for them, having had low miles or no miles at marriage. History shows us that this makes for the greatest bond and the most stable household for the kids. These parents would not have extramarital affairs, or go to key parties or engage in BDSM. They would also not buy a whole lot of designer products, or drink to excess, or even spend too much time watching TV. The parents would have full, purposeful and reverent lives.

They would live in a normal house, not too big, not too stylish, but not small or ugly either. They would live in a normal city or town, in a normal suburb or city block, surrounded by well-adjusted people. For a real normal, these people would be roughly like them in age, intellect, caste, class, heritage, culture, values and language. Their neighborhood would not have extreme crime, but as a constant reminder of why one lives honestly, would have its resident criminals, layabouts, grifters and con-men to pray on the unwary, but only a certain number of them, kept in check by its normal police force which is not overzealous nor excessive sensitive.

A normal town or city would be semi-idyllic only because of its stability. It would not be seen as the coolest place in the world, or the wealthiest, but it wouldn’t be the opposite either. It would be a normal place, where normal people gathered to have families and careers and feel well-adjusted. It would have its share of ugly buildings along with the nice-looking ones, so that the nice-looking ones really stood out in the minds of those who saw them. It would not be paradise, but not an infernal wasteland, either.

The kids would go to a normal school where they would not stand out for anything. Their parents would not be celebrities, but neither would they be downtrodden nobodies. Just average generic folk with about the same jobs, hobbies, and so on that you’d expect. They would not be wealthy, nor poor. They would not have every toy they wanted, but nor would they go without the things they really needed. No one would know them by their last names except as a personal connection to the parent.

The kids would go through a normal life cycle. Born, they would be raised by loving parents, go through the usual learning experiences and then come out stronger. They would go to school, go to college, find careers and fall in love, then have families. They might never do anything exceptional. But they would have normalcy.

Normalcy is a product of normal people, which are those who intend to be normal because it is a life in harmony with nature and self. They have no need for extremes, but prefer a middle path. Not too radical, not too inflexible. Not too much, not too little. Normal means balance, an adaptation to an environment with some grace, but without losing sight of the bottom line. Normal means finding a middling version of the life you would find ideal, and then realizing that the lack of an ideal (a peak) or a threat (a valley) means that you’re on level ground.

Money cannot buy a normal life. If you are wealthy, your name comes tainted with dollar signs. You cannot buy your way into anonymity, and become just another person on an average block in Anywhere, USA. If you are famous the same thing applies. If you are powerful, you would not leave yourself so exposed. You cannot again fit into the fabric of normal life. In fact, normalcy is not a buying decision at all, but a series of decisions: the smaller city, the less-trendy suburb, the average house, the small talk at parties and used Buick in the garage.

To our modern television-instructed minds, the first impulse that explodes out of the mouth is to say, “But isn’t that boring?” Why, yes, on the surface it is. A generic horde of generic people. But this is part of the genius of normalcy. On the surface, there is no variation. This removes all of the parts of life that are essentially distractions. Do you really care that much about being trendy? Having an important-looking car? Buying the right TV?

Normalcy removes the burden of trying to make life interesting through its least interesting attributes. Instead, it provides a stable platform on which we can face the great moral challenge of life itself, which is to find a place for ourselves. We need to feel that what we do is useful, reverent to nature and god and ourselves, and gives us a sense of fulfillment so we can get to know ourselves in the time we have alive.

If we distract ourselves with the drama of life itself and attempt to find meaning in our “different” and “unique” approaches, we are backing away from the larger questions in favor of the smaller. The larger questions are what truly forge our personalities in the moral decisions we make. Normalcy is the environment that nurtures us and encourages us to make these decisions, instead of backing away like so many callow hipsters in the mist.

9 Comments

  1. Jul210s says:

    “…callow hipsters in the mist” is sort of like E. Dickinson’s crack of the whip. Cheers.

  2. Ben says:

    “This removes all of the parts of life that are essentially distractions. Do you really care that much about being trendy?”
    Beautiful!
    Same line of thinking implies to school uniform, suits, and public decency.

  3. ferret says:

    Good article. Thanks.
    This is a really interesting vision of a society one would like to live in.
    It’s too bad in couple of days this article will be piled over by new posts.

    “For a real normal, these people would be roughly like them in age, intellect, caste, class, heritage, culture, values and language.”

    Age: In a normal traditional family-based life children and grandparents are also present. It was normal to have three generations in one household.
    Intellect: You may find youself alone :)
    Culture: it is important and difficult to preserve as it evolves. Good traditions
    should help.
    Class: In your Utopia, the social classes, even in Veberian sense, seem to disappear.
    Values: They should consist of two sets of values. First, the main one – society interest based is the must. The second is a bunch of individual values that don’t conflict with the first set and the individual values of others. Perhaps, they shouldn’t even be called “values”.
    Language: It is essential for sure.

    “The kids would go to a normal school where they would not stand out for anything.” and “They might never do anything exceptional. But they would have normalcy.” – means the end of civilisation.

    Here you have replaced a normality of nurturing exceptional people in a quiet mode, without making noise and money out of the process itself, with the complete absence of future artists, scientists, etc. A talented kid simply should bear his cross and remain modest. No envy, no fuss in this case.

    “Normalcy removes the burden of trying to make life interesting through its least interesting attributes. Instead, it provides a stable platform on which we can face the great moral challenge of life itself, which is to find a place for ourselves.”

    By removing these “least interesting attributes” you are rejecting the current socio economic formation. What will be instead?

    And what is this stable platform: is it a set of moral values only, or it implies a modified way of production in economy?
    Can you imagine the competition in a market economy combined with this normality when the profit as a moving force of the economy appeared to be less important than other values?

    1. ferret says:

      I was right.
      Send me email.

  4. crow says:

    That was good reading :)
    I’ve always wanted to be normal, but really never was.
    Finally, I approach a state that could conceivably be called normal, only to find I am the only one that is.
    Story of my life.

    There’s probably no such thing as normal.
    But as a goal to strive for, it’s probably a good one.

  5. Missy says:

    Really enjoyed reading that, but it’s tongue-in-cheek, isn’t it? Looking at the western world, at least, it’s the presence of abnormality (big cities – ugh; serious mental illness, etc) that would enable the presence of not-normal folk such as Beethoven, Schumann & Mozart.

    Of course, since the thing that great artists are really doing is dealing with their own internal turbulence when they compose music, etc. a “normal” society of your descirption would have no need of them, because there’d be no one in the general populace who would welcome exposure to these great works as a way of finding peace within themselves, at least for awhile. As they say, every problem contains its own solution.

    It all goes together. It’s as if the great composers knew inside what sort of ugliness was to come. Give a listen, please, to Schumann’s Arabeske Op. 18, composed by a madman. Sounds like the work of a crazy person but it is beautiful and soothing. Can anyone figure this out.

    1. Anonymous20 says:

      Have a listen to Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony 1. That is some seriously absorbing music no matter how crazy he was. Same goes for Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique.

  6. EvilBuzzard says:

    A “Normal” life takes a lot of planning and hard work. Even then, fate often knocks you for a loop. Anyone who underestimates how hard it is to eliminate negative variance from a life plan really was born with the proverbial silver spoon in there mouth.

    It takes a lot of discipline and willingness to sacriice short term pleasure for long term stability and safety. You pass up a lot of glitter and shine along the way.
    Only a profoundly wise man or someone disciplined enough to accept and listen to their betters figures this out and does all the hard work necessary to remain “normal.”

  7. Attila says:

    Living in an urban area – “normal” is not what comes to mind when I sit and people–watch for a while — not unless normal means hordes of tattoed/pierced people, lesbians and homosexual men acting out in public, people talking to themselves and gesticulating while walking on the street – or getting a hysterical response when asking a stranger a simple question (time?, are you in line?). It’s an open-air insane asylum.

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