My wife and I have traveled through life asking one another about what's normal.
"Take a look at this thing on my back. Do you think it's normal?"
How would I know?
That's the question and issue. We don't know what's normal.
We used 112 units of electricity in November. Was that normal? I don't know. How do I compare it? The power company will tell me what I used last year but it doesn't tell me what everyone else uses.
I do know, that after comparing last year's electric, gas and water bills from this year's charges, we've used less of each per day and we're paying more, per day. Is that normal? I learned that our spending and use is less than the national average. I guess that makes us abnormal. For the record, we spent $107 for electricity for 32 days for the billing period that ended on November 21st. Let me know if you think that's normal, please.
For the record, it wasn't my idea to ask if the amount and the bill were normal. My wife requested that I review it. Yes, I did take it further than what she needed. I know, it's not normal.
How much money is it normal for a middle aged married couple to spend on food, including the food for three cats? Is $500 a month normal or abnormal?
Is it normal to walk into a room and forget what you went in there to find? Is that just a normal part of aging or a harbinger of mental illnesses taking root in me?
How many bowel movements a day are normal?
The Internet is 'helpful' about learning what's normal. It's a new hobby, learning what is normal by sifting through Internet links and posts, watching for the wink of truth from the materials proferred on the page, searching for vetted information and their sources, judging the sources and the methodologies, and dismissing the debunked information.
Some things are kept deliberately kept secret, like pay and compensation, so we don't know what's normal. It's considered bad form in society to discuss them, and it's an offense that can have you fired at work in my company. Talking about what you're being paid with others to compare it with others! How dare you!
Guess it's abnormal to be curious.
Abnormal is the coin we flip while discussing normal. Is our friend's inability to stay in a relationship more than three months abnormal? Is it normal for him to expect sex on the first or second date? What about the neighbor's desire to be a CASA and help young boys, say, in the ages of six to nine?
Is that normal?
Is it normal or abnormal for parents to attempt to shield their children from learning about the slain children at Sandy Hook? If they keep that information from their children, will it be normal or abnormal?
Is it abnormal to stockpile food and weapons and turn your home into a fortress of solitude? What does that do to your children's development?
Is it normal or abnormal to recoil from violence on the news or enjoy violence in video games, or slasher horror movies? Do playing violent video games cause you to become abnormal?
Is it abnormal that most mass shootings are caused by men?
Of course, normal is relative. Most of my relatives seem normal. I don't know what happens when I'm not around, though. Sometimes stories come out later that makes me wonder if they're normal. But I don't know if what they did is normal in families. Sometimes normal depends on the culture and the situation.
We can call that situational normalcy.
Psychologists have already written about normalcy bias as a condition. People tend to be optimistic about the situation and what's going to come of it. They underestimate the dangers and threats. It's the idea that nothing bad has happened before, therefore it won't ever happen. Nothing happening is normal.
Being in the military taught me situational awareness, which is about the opposite of normal bias. It's served me well. When I look at trends and behavior, I end up wondering, is that normal? Even if it's normal, what does it mean?
Later, training people, I liked coming up with ideas that challenged them to think. Don't take anything for granted. You end up with bad routines if you do and you're shortchanging your ability to improvise and resolve things, I used to preach. Our exercises were diabolical. Like, one year we used an aircraft as a weapon and flew it into the command building, thereby wiping out the command structure. "What will your people do without you around?" I asked the officers and NCOs. I preached having a primary, secondary and tertiary backup, and loved asking the question, what if your tertiary backup fails.
What are you going to do?
I wanted them to think about what is normal, and what they'll do when things are happening that aren't normal.
I think about it all the time. I'm not sure what is normal.
I have lots of ideas about what is not.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com