I’m going out on a spindly, dangling, vulnerable limb and admitting that I’ve used the word “normal” to describe people like me with whom I wanted to be friends. As in “I like that girl; she’s so normal.”
In 1985 I declared about a new friend, “She’s so normal,” just because she was wearing Tretorn sneakers and vacationed at a place I’d been to often. I was ethnocentric and provincial enough to think that conferred normalcy or acceptability.
My husband pointed out that “like Cary Umhau” was probably not the quintessential definition of “normal.” The first reason is because I’m not all that normal, whatever “normal” means anyway (and, besides I don’t even like to be thought of as normal,reeking of averageness as that word does).
And “normal” doesn’t even make sense for anyone. What does it mean? Compared to what? In what respect? What does “normal” look like?
Tim Keller, a pastor in New York, talks in one of his sermons about how white people often talk about “black culture” or “Latino culture” as if they themselves didn’t have a culture. As if the way that they are is simply the way things are. The first time I heard that I gasped because I knew that was my attitude.
I hope it’s honest to say “was” vs. “is.”
I wonder what blind spots I have today that I’ll look back on and say, “I can’t believe that in 2011 I thought that _________________ was normal just because I did it or thought it.”
I’ll have to fill in the blank then; that’s the nature of blind spots.
I’d like to live so that my new normal is assuming that I have no right to define “normal.”