Monday, January 4, 2016

Normal: A postmortem

I love celebrating New Year’s. Who wouldn’t? This puts me in the same category as everybody else.

I hate celebrating my birthday. This puts me in the category of borderline nutcases.

Is that okay? Is that normal?

We spend our lives contemplating about ourselves vis-vis a perceived normal behavior. 

I am having weird dreams about falling off a cliff lately, is that normal?

I don’t like going to noisy parties like my friends do. Is that normal?

We can find all sorts of such questions on various forums. TV shows offering relationship advice, newspaper “Ask the expert” columns, Quora, chat rooms and what not.

Many times not just ourselves; we don’t spare anyone at all. 

Uncle so and so sold off everything he had and went on a world tour, normal people don’t do that.

That guy is in a committed relationship and is flirting with somebody else while his girlfriend looks on, is that a normal relationship?

Shahid Kapoor married a college kid! Is that a normal thing to do for a film star? 

Don’t we? What does normal even mean? According to Merriam-Webster, in the context of this discussion, normal could mean the following:
  1. according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle; conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
  2. occurring naturally
  3. of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development; free from mental disorder :  sane

In other words, not abnormal. Not insane. Or, average. In a mathematical sense, something that fits the bell curve:

If you do something which more than 68% of the people in the world do, then it’s normal or conformant or standard or regular. Otherwise not.

Most of the people don't rob a bank. That’s normal. I guess it is okay to fit the bell curve here.

Most of the people don’t exercise regularly. That’s normal. But it is not really okay to fit this bell curve.

Would you go on making imaginary bell curves for everything under the sun? Now, is that  normal?! What kind of normal is acceptable?

But you know what, the real question here is: do you even want to be the same as 68% people? The answer is: no; and yes. It’s not about being a conformist or a non-conformist. If the majority of people on the world can swim, even a staunch non-conformist would want to be in the majority. Simply because it’s a good skill to possess.  Same for a conformist wanting to do something different, such as deciding to keep the car in the right lane, or following traffic rules!
So, in a nutshell, it’s okay to be a nutcase sometimes. It is also all right if you follow the rules. After all, life is too short to be spent thinking so much or trying so hard to be normal. In fact, lets just scratch this word from our vocabulary. 

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