Do I Really Want Normal?

A friend and I were bemoaning the fact that just when we think life is about to get back to normal, someone goes and moves the line! The more I thought about that, the more I began to wonder if there is such a thing as normal.

Although I had in my mind a definition of “normal,” I went to good ole Webster and looked up his definition. To my surprise, his definition took up nearly 1/4 of a column and included 8 different answers (with parts a, b, c, and sometimes even d) — the last of which I would have had to stop and look up about every other word in order to understand! Definition #8: “having the property of commutativity under multiplication by the transpose of the matrix each of whose elements is a conjugate complex number with respect to the corresponding element of the given matrix.” What???!!! I suspect only a math whiz could understand that definition on a first read-through.

The definition I most closely had in mind was 1b: “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” Okay . . . now we’re talking!

So, if I were to pick one day to describe as being “normal,” what day would that be? A work day? A weekend? A day from years gone by when the kids were growing and soccer practice and/or cheerleading drills were part of the daily routine? Or is the definition of a normal day something more recent? Perhaps a day spent with the grandkids? Or a Saturday with no special agenda?

In my years of living, I have been guilty many times over of saying (or shouting), “I just wish things could get back to normal!” I would venture to say that every time I’ve said that, it was during a time when my life was in turmoil because of something negative that happened. Perhaps I woke up with a sick child on my hands. Or maybe the car broke down. Or maybe a family member was diagnosed with cancer. But, is that really fair? To only wish for “normal” days when things go awry?

What about when our days are interrupted by good things? Perhaps the unexpected visit from a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while? Or maybe a surprise birthday party thrown just for you? Or maybe spontaneous celebration because of a check in the mail that came at just the right time?

Normal may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. To have a normal day would mean that I would have near “cookie-cutter” days — days much like the one before and the one before that and the one before that. How boring! I suspect very few of us would be happy for very long with days like that. Yet, many do. The first person who comes to my mind is my 99-year-old mother-in-law. Unless I or one of my kids goes to visit her, or unless she has a doctor’s appointment of some kind, her days are pretty much the same — normal. Each day is much like the day before.

So, while I suspect I will still sometimes wish life would go back to normal, my initial definition has broadened a bit. I don’t want “cookie-cutter” days. I realize now that, deep down, I don’t want that at all (at least not by the definition I initially had in mind!). I want days where there is the element of surprise. I want days where monotony is broken up by the unexpected — preferably good, of course! I want days when I’m surprised by the beauty of the sunrise or the sunset. Days when I’m caught off guard by the funny things my grandkids say. Days when I catch a glimpse of God working in my life and in the lives of others.


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