How do we define “normal”? And I don’t mean just in our everyday life and routines, but altogether. Who is normal? What is normal? How do we create normal?
I was thinking about this as my life shifted – as it tends to do – from a period of high stress / uncertainty / lack of routine back to what I accept as normal. It means things are once more the way I expect them, and I don’t have to maintain a high stress level from reacting to whatever may or may not happen or be happening. It means I can relax and follow through with the routine. My life is more balanced, predictable, and therefore easier – if less exciting. Routine and this normal can be created – and destroyed – very quickly.
The thing is, what if “normal” goes out the window? Maybe on a personal scale (sudden tragedy or unexpected loss, etc) and maybe on a global scale, but in both cases, an apocalypse. And if we’re looking at a global scale, how long before what is new and unexpected likewise becomes normal? How long before people start to fall into new routines, new patterns, new definitions of “normal”?
Will this tendency to create normalcy be a strength or weakness?
For the side of strength, I think normalcy allows us time and a pattern of achieving goals and work. Certain things could easily become part of a necessary routine even after an apocalypse – like gather food, take care of animals, prepare food, garden duty, etc, etc. Normalcy could also help us accept the unacceptable, like constant guard against zombie attack, or self-protection from spreading disease – the routines of self-protection could form an accepted way of life. I also think creating normalcy is important because it allows us to relax a little, for our bodies to step away from the fight-or-flight stress response which is only sustainable for the short-term – it uses up too many resources and would eventually drain health if a constant state of stress was demanded.
However, this leads to the argument that normalcy could be a weakness, since after all, letting down your guard and relaxing – even for a moment in a dangerous world – could mean death. Being predictable could make us easier targets, since it would make us easier to hunt, as well as easier to surprise – if our definition of “normal” doesn’t include attack, we could be surprised and suffer dire consequences. Defining “normal” also narrows our perception and understanding of what is possible (ie: what is “abnormal”) as well as what is acceptable; this could cost us opportunity and create a rigid pattern of thought. After all, if we begin to rigidly define “normal,” we could become little better than children on a schoolyard where anything that stands out as different or unique leads to isolation and “us vs them” mentalities.
So, where does that leave us? Should we strive for normal, or do the risks outweigh the benefits? Is it just a form of laziness we’ve learned to fall back on since human lives have continuously become easier through the ages? What do you think – please comment and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week.