Some of us were born so “not normal” that we were never able to learn how to join the normal crowd. Then we spent years feeling remorse, sorrow, doubt and more challenging emotions wondering why we couldn’t get in line.
My path led me to philosophy and spiritual teachers in order to find out what was really wrong with me. Only to find out that normal is considered social conditioning, a main evil influence on us spiritual seekers. Great, by that time I had managed to force some of my rounder characteristics into the square box of normal. Not only was I not normal, I was strangely normal enough to require long painful introspection about the socialization I had gotten myself attached to, and now had to give up!
What was the carrot I was after in all that literature, meditation, yoga, positive thoughts, and deep breathing? My Natural Self. This self was all tucked away and held safely out of view. Natural is not normal. It is natural. Natural flows down hill like water, it drifts with the wind like smoke, it sleeps when tired, eats when hungry, cries when sad, laughs when happy. Natural does all of this regardless of what all the normal ones are doing.
It seems normal that we are born natural.
We explore from our natural, intelligent, curious, loving self. Then we learn the norms of whatever culture we are born into. That process of socialization often has an element of crushing part of what is natural. Then, normal people learn that the natural self is animalistic, uncivilized, sinful, violent, crazy, etc. Normal people participate in all types of self control in order to subdue their natural self. But if that Natural Self is so loud that the normal person can still hear it, they normally turn to pharmaceuticals, alcohol, recreational drugs, high risk adventures, etc. to take the edge off–to allow themselves a few hours of socially acceptable inappropriate behavior–known as as a “normal” thing to do now and then. As long as they are able to return to a normal, productive, socially acceptable life–like working loyally in a job they hate, staying in an empty relationship, looking happy when sad, looking sad when distracted, going uphill when they’d rather go down, then they get to keep their normal status and everything is “fine.”
For some of us, a moment comes when the strain between the poles of natural and normal is too great to be released or subdued by self control or previously reliable things that took the edge off. That moment might be experienced as a raging explosion in which we find ourselves breaking lots of possessions or going for an aggressive run as we realize that normal really isn’t working for us anymore. It could come as a long, loud time of hysterical laughing when we see that normal is really just an idea–and one we don’t need to participate in anymore. Some of us grieve at the lost time, lost relationships, lost opportunities to express ourselves–all set aside in honor of “normal.” Sometimes it comes as a very long nap, followed by fatigue and more sleeping as we realize how hard we have been working physically and emotionally to maintain a certain external image that is no match to our unique Natural Self.
If we are fortunate, this time will open the pathway back to our Natural Self.
We will take our self loving by the hand, and patiently and persistently find our way through our stories and emotions to that still, calm place known only as our unique, Natural Self. We will turn attention inward and feel our way to our Natural Self. We will learn to dwell within our own skin. We will return there often enough that it becomes normal for us to listen to our own voice.