Normally, I wouldn’t

Occasionally, my mind wanders.  It flits hither and yon finding the shiny objects my synapses fire up.  I think about things normal people don’t.  For instance, “what is normal?” says:

nor·mal  [nawr-muhl]


1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

 I’d like to think I’m normal, but I know I don’t conform to many standards.    Of course, I try to make sure I shower daily, wear clean clothes and help my fellow men, but Lambchop always reminds me I’m “crazy behind the eyes.” Perhaps that is the new normal.

Normal seems to change ever generation or so.   I am thinking about “conforming to the standard.”  There was a time when a woman’s dress shouldn’t show her ankles.  Covering up was normal.  Then skirts rose.  And rose some more.  Now any length is basically acceptable and normal.  I still don’t think men who wear their pants below their crotches, showing off their Dime Store underwear are normal.  They must like walking with one hand on their waistband.  Perhaps in 10 years it will be considered normal.

Here’s where I’d normally veer into music.  Since I’m not normal, let’s talk about meals.  A family dinner at 6pm or so used to be normal.  It is how I grew up. How often does that happen now?  Normal for the Monkey was having his meal in his bedroom while his brother and mother ate in their rooms.  How many of us eat in front of the television on a table meant more for beverages than meals?  Fast food used to be a treat or a road trip accessory, now it seems like it has replaced the home cooked meal as the norm.  That saddens me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the greasy stop from time to time.  I enjoy cooking for my family and prefer being together with them over a casual meal as often as possible.  Wouldn’t we be better off reinvigorating the family home cooked meal?  There is a million dollar idea in there; I just need to workshop it.  Fast foods, compartmentalization and alienation seem to go hand in hand. Maybe McDonald’s should add jello to its combos to remind us of where we came from.  I remember when my father insisted my mother include wiggly squares of jello, they were so much better than the molded version.  We don’t have that discussion eating fast food from a bag.

What seems to be the new normal is less connected and more scattered.  That meal on the go keeps us moving.  Why sit and talk when you can text?  Are we so afraid of what others might see in our eyes that we limit our contact?  Or have our children not learned how to connect?  We have Facebook, Twitter, Skype and texts.  I would never say they are not wonderful.  But they shouldn’t replace contact and relationship building.  Perhaps that is the new normal.

MTV brought us the age of ADD television.  Don’t like what you are watching? No worries, it will be over in 3 minutes, 30 seconds.  Then music videos and television took it a bit further with edits and severe visual changes every 6 seconds or less.  What would happen if the younger generation actually watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope?”  There are only a few edits, making it look like one long scene.  It is a fantastic movie and visually different from almost every other movie.  I’m afraid it would cause people’s brains to seize up.  I don’t want to stop progress, but I would like to see the instant-gratificationism of the world decrease noticeably.

It seems over the last 20 years every kid gets a ribbon or a trophy or medal for showing up.  Participation has replaced achievement.  We all know the phrase “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!”  While that might be a bit too competitive for many, it underscores the need to compete.  When everything is instant, even our coffee and our oatmeal,  and participation is prized higher than achievement, we get mediocrity.  (No instant coffee for me please – grab the French Press.)  We lose our ability to build relationships because, “we tried.”    I’ve seen “tried” become a euphemism for “it was too much trouble to really put in any real effort.”   That can’t be good for relationships or the economy.  I would gently suggest we take Yoda’s advice, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  We shouldn’t be afraid of the work or effort required in “doing.”

 I had a co-worker once tell me I was an iconoclast.  Really?

i·con·o·clast/ [ahy-konuh-klast]

1. a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.

2. a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.

2.  nonconformist, rebel, dissenter, radical.

Again, I might dismiss cherished beliefs and traditional institutions, but I’m not attacking religion.  Well, not that often.  I am however a bit of nonconformist, which of course keeps conforming as I get older.  Once the hair got cut, the torn tee shirt traded for a suit and I joined the work force I began moving toward the center, albeit slowly.

I often think I’m misunderstood, at least in the workplace. I know I can be seen as a dissenter.  I often see what can go wrong and in an effort to forestall disaster, I bring up problems so they can be identified, contemplated and rectified.  How do you prevent things from going wrong if you simply ignore them?  Let’s be honest, we all know too many people who act like ostriches and hope things go well.  Ignore it and it will go away; like Don Draper and his tooth. The happiness fairy will make it better.   That’s not me.  I’m not really negative, I prefer to think realistic.  It’s the whole ounce of prevention thing.  If that makes me a radical rebel, so be it.

The world has become a more complex place- more to do and an increasing number of moving parts to break.  Perhaps it takes a few more iconoclasts and rebels to keep progress headed in a constructive direction, not a destructive one.  This might be the new normal.


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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

     /  June 14, 2012

    I agree with a lot of what you say.Sorry. Don’t know how you feel about Lambchop’s goofy mother being in agreement w/ you.


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