Most of us float through life assuming we are ‘normal’. If we ever wonder about it, that might happen in our teens – when we’re likely to experience self doubt or at least think about the concept of ‘normality’ (Americans use ‘normalcy’).
If we pay attention a little, we might notice that not everyone around us conforms to some generally acknowledged standard of behavior. By the time we’re adults, we’ve generally known a few people who were labeled “non-conformist” or “unconventional”. And usually we’ve come across “weird”.
If we pay attention a lot, we may end up realizing there is actually a whole, broad spectrum of behavior and attitudes and some of it at one end of the spectrum is extremely different from that at the other end.
Or perhaps we could think of it as a circle – in which case there is no beginning and no end, but a very large collection of places on the spectrum where any of us could be at some time in our lives, and not necessarily by choice or happily.
I must have been in my fifties when it struck me like a thunderbolt that there was no such thing as normal. I began to look at people I knew – and people I didn’t know – through the simple filter of open-ended, non-judging interest and curiosity. As if my soul were asking an unspoken question: “Who are you with me?”