Enlightened Conflict

normality is a paved road

December 15th, 2016

 

pretending-to-be-normal

 

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“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

 

Vincent van Gogh

 

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mener une vie normale <French>

to lead a normal life

 

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Benjamin Franklin:

 

“Human happiness comes not from infrequent pieces of good fortune, but from the small improvements to daily life.”

 

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“When inspiration does not come to me, I go halfway to meet it.”

 

 —–

Sigmund Freud

 

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normal-not-fun

Well.

 

Let’s just say “normal” gets a really bad rap.

 

It constantly has to fight off “boring” and “same as” and “routine” and … well … let’s just say a shitload of ‘not-so-positive’ sounding words.

 

I mean … c’mon. Is normal really that frickin’ bad?

And what hell is ‘normal’ … as in a normal life … anyway?

 

Anyway.

 

I imagine, as with most things in Life, normal is about balance.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah … I know a shitload of people will suggest that ‘normal’ is defined by the individual and how they view life … but, in general, at one end of the  ‘how to live your life’ spectrum is wacko eccentric person and the other end is bland milquetoast boring to tears person.

 

Most of us reside somewhere in the middle of all that.

 

I tend to believe the problem is in how we most often have this discussion.

 

When we talk about living a ‘normal’ life it almost seems destined for some boredom and certainly when you decide to sit back with some self-reflection … uhm … it will most likely be generously dipped in some disappointment.

 

And then, on the other hand, it seems like a choice to live an ‘anything but normal’ life it almost seems destined for some sanity challenges and certainly what-is-normal-youth-advicesome self-reflection generously dipped in some discouragement.

 

Yikes … so your choice is either disappointment or discouragement.

 

Look.

 

None of us really want to be normal all the time. We want to spice it up a little and maybe do something not so normal for us <albeit … it could be fairly tame, or absurdly reckless, in other people’s eyes>. And it is that little choice … that ‘step away from what we normally do and think’ that kind of gets us in trouble.

 

Why?

Because most times we ‘step away’ by ‘being spontaneous.’

 

<note: spontaneous has a dubious relationship with ‘something different than the normal’>

 

Whew.

 

Truth be told … spontaneity sounds awesome <in concept> but more often than not disappointing. Not many people point this out but spontaneity actually sucks because anything “abnormal” or “not normal” is a great concept but has a nasty habit of creating more problems than it is worth.

 

Truth be told … routines <which is a characteristic of ‘normal life’> do a shitload to help establish our day-to-day ‘normal’ with a nice side benefit that it encourages us to believe we do have some self-discipline  <because the alternative is that we start thinking we live a completely chaotic undisciplined life>.

 

normal-life-break-rules-paved-with-decisionsYeah. a lot of these routines look really minor and really mundane if you sit down and think them through.

My advice? Don’t.

Just let them occur as naturally as breathing because these stupid little things tend to create a larger sense of rhythm or normalcy in your life.

 

And, yeah, even eccentric nutjobs incorporate some ‘normal’ routines in their daily Life.

 

But here is where balance enters the discussion.

Because we want both <although in today’s world it seems like there is no in between.

 

It may seem weird but I tend to believe no one’s sole ambition in Life is to be viewed solely as ‘normal.’

 

And, yet, we can live a pretty frickin’ good Life ‘normally.’ And, in fact, our normal most likely incorporates some fairly ‘abnormal’ … or let’s call them ‘unique features’ … aspects.

 

Most of us actually incorporate some unique shit into our lives which are simply reflections of our personality uniqueness. But because they are extensions of who we are we overlook them a being ‘normal.’

 

Let’s face it.

normal-worst-2

Normal has a shitty reputation.

 

And it should not.

 

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“I don’t really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more.

I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits.”

Anaïs Nin

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This isn’t about ‘fitting in’ or marinating some rigid code of conduct or even seeking approval in what you do. this is about doing shit that makes you happy … and I assume that ‘happy’ means you haven’t been <a> laughed at as a fool – just laughed at for having fun, <b> stared at as if you belong in some loony bin – just stared at because they know you are enjoying yourself  or <c> doing something insanely stupid just to gain some attention.

 

Yeah.

Sometimes this shit may be out of the mainstream but 99% of the time it is not unacceptable to everyone. It is just is not … well … the normal everyday 100% of the time shit people see or hear.

 

Whether you like it or not … suggesting ‘normal’ is completely self defined is … well … stupid.

 

Yes.

You should have your own way of seeing the world and the life you’re living.

 

Yes.

You should feel it is normal <as long as it is not a ‘statement’ but rather an natural extension of your ‘self’>.

 

Yes.

You should accept the idea that other people may feel differently about your version of normal.

 

All that said … here is where I think normal and abnormal go into conflict.

 

 

Yes.

You should understand that normal is actually defined by some standard operating procedures of the people, society & culture as a whole.

normal-slaves-of-ordinary-be-daring-different-assert

And, no, I am not suggesting some of the wacky crap society thrusts upon an individual <society tells me how I should be stuff> but rather the fact cultures, civilizations in a broader perspective, define some accepted rules of behavior – some “what I should do” stuff.

 

Let’s call them ‘core life action basics.’

These are some normal things which everyone should do and think in a normal day and a normal life.

 

Here is the good news for people who balk at ‘normal.’

 

The great thing about culture is it tends to give an individual a lot of room to expand upon these things. You can go about your life wearing whatever clothes you want and saying a bunch of different words as personal expression beyond the core. I call that ‘window dressing stuff.’ In other words I can dress up my core ‘normality crap’ in pretty much anything I want and express it with almost any words I want.

 

The trouble mostly revolves around the fact that some individuals infringe upon the core, change the core and sometimes do things which do not meet what most people would accepts as accepted normal behavior.

 

Here is not just a Life truth … but a civilization truth … a culture cannot permit that ‘abnormal normal’ to become normalized.

And while we often suggest it takes courage to express yourself in some ‘not-so-normal’ ways it actually takes even more courage to defend core normality.

 

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“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue?

 

It rather denotes a lack of courage.”

Practical Magic

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Anyway.

 

When it comes to this topic the bravest people in the world are not the ones who dont flinch_by_peacelovemusicstand out through self-expression of self-identity even if that identity is ‘not the normal’ but rather the people who unflinchingly defend normal core beliefs & behaviors and unflinchingly express it in whatever personal identity way they want.

 

Far too often we slot people on one side or the other where, in truth, we should be also slotting people into the third more significant slot.

I imagine the problem with that is that those people are not interesting enough to make splashy headlines nor are they boring enough to be masticated for being milquetoast.

 

And, yet, they were the bravest of us all. They chose to be normal & not-so-normal and fought relentlessly for both.

 

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just-shower-thoughts:

 

On my headstone, I think I want, “No one deserved death more.” That way, people will research my life and find nothing interesting, then actually think that for wasting their time.

juxtaposition

November 24th, 2016

 

juxtaposition-stop-keep-moving-life-advice

 

“It is a union that suggests the essential mystery of the world.

Art for me is not an end in itself, but a means of evoking that mystery. ”

 

René Magritte on putting seemingly unrelated objects together in art

 

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jux·ta·po·si·tion

noun

 

  1. the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.

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Thanksgiving often represents the ultimate juxtaposition.

 

dream interesting headA time and place in which generations intersect.

 

The ones intermittently stepping with both uncertainty and moments of certain confidence … growing into who they will be.

 

The ones intermittently standing in a space of satisfaction and moments of dissatisfaction … who grapple with who they are <and what they have done and have not done>.

 

The ones intermittently looking at how things have changed, for good and bad, who desperately hold on to who and what everyone was … while every bone in their body wants to see how it will be better for those around them despite how much has changed.

 

 

Thanksgiving is fraught with juxtapositions.

 

And we wonder why there is often conflict?

 

Thanksgiving often forces us to view the past, present and future in one forced viewing. And not only that but instead of the more common sit back and introspectively view your own intersection of past, present & future this one is more often done in a collaboration & consensus event where all participants weigh in and offer some thoughts on. And the participants aren’t typically some random people pulled of the street or employees in some department you only see in the break room … these participants are representative of what truly happened in your past, are most likely semi involved in your present and , whether you like it or not, are places you will visit again in your future.

 

The juxtaposition of what is in your own mind and what is in others minds shifts the intangible to tangible as real as the turkey being served on a plate to everyone.

 

I often do think that Thanksgiving is art coming to Life.

 

We picture the picture.

We choose the palette of colors to use.

We all place a brush on the canvas.

 

And, in the end, we gaze at the end product … each seeing it through our own lens of what Life means to us and what we mean to Life.

 

Juxtapositions can be difficult.

 

Difficult to … well … like … or maybe to embrace easily.bad-good-juxtapose-life-family-ideas

 

Difficult to easily see how the good and bad embody … well … good shit.

 

Difficult to see a reality that matches … well … the reality we had in our head before we were forced to encounter this juxtaposition.

 

Regardless.

 

I have one word for you today, on this thanksgiving, as we ponder this day in which we are faced with juxtaposition  … “neighboring.”

 

In the Modern Guide of Synonyms juxtaposition does not have its own heading.

It can only be found under “neighboring.”

 

Juxtaposing can be found only side by side with adjacent, adjoining, contiguous and neighboring.

 

Far too often we, I included, separate past, present and future … “live in the moment” … “learn from the past” … “the future is now.”

All that shit.

 

Last year on Thanksgiving I suggested it is the functional dysfunctional being served as a good tasting dish on the day. That on Thanksgiving all of that typically comes together and eats together. But I also suggested … “all I know is that my family is my family and my childhood was my childhood and my future is my future.”

And that the functionally dysfunctional in all aspects, and all the aspects, helped craft the man, the person, I am today. I imagine I am not that different in that aspect from anyone else.

 

I was a victim of it all without becoming a victim of the experience. Just as I will be a victim of the future without becoming a victim of the experience.

 

Anyway.

 

Past, present and future are neighbors. We see each other every day and say good morning even when grumpy and not awake and talk about what is happening with our kids and lives over the fence in between chores. And these neighbors paint the canvas of our lives. Yeah. Sometimes we don’t always like what we see but sometimes it all comes together just right.

 

Thanksgiving, while a forced juxtaposition in which we are forced to sit and face next generation of thinkerspast, present & future, is a gathering of neighboring thoughts, adjacent thoughts, adjoining thoughts and contiguous thoughts.

 

And that, my friends, is what art is.

 

A gathering of all those thoughts.

A creation borne of the mystery of the world … and our world.

 

Ponder that this thanksgiving wherever you are and whoever you are with.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Enlightened Conflict