If I assume I am perfect, I will see nothing but fault in my neighbour. I walked out my front door yesterday and saw a sign in my neighbour’s front yard. “My Neighbour Is Normal.” I thought it was a little late coming but I was pleased by their opinion. It was like stepping into an alternate reality for a moment as I did not associate it correctly.
There is a beautiful building and park a block away. The building was once “the Normal School.’ I’m not sure what lead to its closure but I have always been disappointed I was unable to attend. It is becoming vulnerable to development and the community is rallying to have a say in its future. There are hundreds of signs up now but it is my neighbour’s that speaks to me.
To be accidentally recognized as normal was once a dream. When I would go on passes into town it was normal I sought. I wanted to shed the uniqueness of my life. I only wanted to drink a coffee among you. I only wanted to cut my grass and take out the garbage. I only wanted to find my food in a grocery store, not on a tray.
Now I live in a neighbourhood where “normal” is rampant and I am content to be immersed in it. I am normal, just ask my neighbour.

13 thoughts on “Normal

  1. What is normal and whose definition do we listen to? I may be imagining it but I hear sadness in your discussion of not ‘being normal’. It’s sad when anyone feels alienated for whatever reason and feels different. I think most people have moments of feeling out of the loop but mental illness certainly pushes the individual into a painfuI alienated place and will do until society grows in understanding and empathy. I also sense you are settling into your current world and fitting in nicely. I hope this is true for you.

  2. Hi Leanne,
    Thanks for commenting. I agree with your thoughts.
    I felt disconnected when I was part of the institution. Now that the distance I keep from it is more of my choosing I feel normal quite often. No one seems to notice me on the way to the library or while getting groceries. I don’t stand out behaviorally or physically.
    I’m not sure who is normal but I don’t feel too different from most people I meet. I expect they put their pants on one leg at a time. We all struggle and have regrets just as we have accomplishments and dreams. We’re all here to learn, I just happened to do an amount of mine in the principals office. If spending too much time with the principal makes me abnormal it doesn’t say much about the principal. I hope your weekend was good.

  3. Thanks Brett, my strong suspicion is not only do you look and act ‘normal’ as you so humourously put it (I suspect they put their trousers on one leg at a time) but you are normal, probably far more normal than those who consider themselves ‘sane’. Here’s to learning and visits to the Principals office and putting pants legs on one at a time.

  4. I went for dinner with a fellow recovery friend the other night. The only place that was open was a pub. We sat on the patio and asked the waiter to turn down the techno pop music; but we could not turn down the volume on the buffed muscles and artificial tan of all the waiters and much of the clientel — the bleached hair and the superficial conversation going on. When we finished and got back outside, we both breathed a sigh of relief and agreed that we’d gotten our dose of normalacy for … the rest of our lives. I guess I associate normal with popular culture, which to me is superficial and, as another recently said to me, ‘ego based’. In popular culture, I see all the norms that have hurt me over the years — that it is not okay to be weak, need help, or be anything but a rich model with a big house and a big car; that success is money.
    In my recovery, my values have shifted drastically and irrevocably, so that I am not even drawn to this particular definition of normal anymore. I don’t feel at all safe in that environment; I feel left out, over-looked, misunderstood, humiliated. Why would I want more of that?
    But all that being said, Brett, I so appreciate the notion of our neighbours accepting us; a sign that acknowledges the value of absolutely everyone. What a sign to put in our yards! What if absolutely everyone decided to partake? What if there was a national campaign for acceptance?
    Well, as you can see, I found this article thought-provoking; and at the root, yes, I too can relate to the eternal longing for normal; I think I just need to change the word to acceptance and appreciation, participation and belonging. Thanks for liking my post; I’m glad to find your blog and read about your story. Keep on … With thanks, Underground.

    • Hi Underground,

      Normal seems to be more of a product. In a way it can be purchased. If I can purchase a popular item I can be a popular item. We sometimes measure ourselves by what we own in comparison to others. The qualities we posses are often overlooked.
      A national campaign for acceptance is a great idea. We are all individuals but what lies beneath seems fairly universal. My neighbour does not live as I do but we sometimes get hung up on the right or wrong of it. If I can look at them and see myself I don’t need to place values on them.
      I very much appreciate your thoughtful response. It has given me much more to think about.
      Kind regards, Brett

    • I’m sure they did but when they set the bar and began to believe in it they were disqualified. To see yourself as the normal one makes you unique which means you’re not normal.

      • I agree! I read how Jesus was never normal, nor did he ever concern himself with being normal…..I suspect he even left his own home town because he didn’t want to be “normal” since they wouldn’t accept him there…..

  5. I love reading blogs….specially when I come across them by accident. I didn’t go “looking” for yours Brett but I’m glad it was the first place I “landed”. I live in the neighbourhood of “My Neighbour Is Normal” and I truly laughed my a$$ off when I read it. Then, after the initial giggle, I turned my attention back to my dogs I was walking and I got thinking about it.
    On my initial giggle, I said to myself “wow, I wonder if your neighbour even cares that they have your seal of approval?” The sign had a web address running along the bottom of it, tho’ it wasn’t a real estate company name that I recognized, I wondered if a new agent or backyard real estate company had popped up. It was then that I became offended.
    The conversation with myself carried on. (I digress, but is having a conversation with yourself, “normal”? I’ve always wondered that. lol) I thought the tag line was now one of prejudicial connotations. And then said, “wow, that sucks.”
    The following night, my dogs and I headed in the opposite direction where we passed two more signs. “If this many people are moving off the street, maybe there’s something I should know about!”, I started….. but then we ran across a skunk and my internal conversation ceased and desisted. And I forgot to memorize the web address. Again.
    An earlier walk this evening had us passing the first sign I had come across a few evenings ago. “Alright Di, tonight you find out about this ‘normal’ thing”. Still not knowing the web address, at least I had “My Neighbour is Normal” to start off with, and so off to Google Canadian pages and on the first page, your blog popped up about 4 times. So here I am.
    First, your Doberman grabbed my attention. Being a dog lover, I figured you were already ahead of the game, in my opinion, with regards to your normalcy or not. And now at least, I know the signs have to do with the community coming together over the demise of a school. I like this community’s underlying spirit. It’s also so bloody diversified with a huge blend of people, it’s nice to think that everyone is accepted, regardless of their background, career path (or lack thereof), or general outlook on life.
    I have further research to do, as I don’t know the first thing about the “Normal” school, it’s history or age….or the current news about it. Thanks to the signs, I soon will be. My initial reaction is what a cruel, uneducated and crippling label-conscious society we used to be.
    My reaction to your blog was quite different from the first poster. To me, it was written brilliantly with tongue-in-cheek humour and I found it quite entertaining! I know I’ll visit your page again, as I’ve now bookmarked it. Have a wonderful weekend Brett and all the best to you and yours!
    ~ Di

    • Hi Diana,

      I’m glad you came across my blog and that you found some humour in it. For me seeing the first sign was a little like the twilight zone. I wondered who had convened the meeting to send me to the realms of normal? I have been over 25 years with a label or two so it was a pleasant surprise to have my neighbours vote.

      The skunk you saw is likely the one who lives under my garage. There are many squirrels in the neighbourhood but only one skunk who seems never to leave me alone.

      This may mean the sign next door gets pulled soon but it is my belief that to talk to oneself is fairly normal. I think in words mainly so it would seem natural to have some of those thoughts bubble into conversation.
      Thank you for the compliments and yes some of it was tongue in cheek. I hope to hear from you again.
      Kind regards, Brett

  6. Hi excellent blog! Does running a blog such as this take a lot of work?

    I have no understanding of coding however
    I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyways, if you have any recommendations or techniques for
    new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject nevertheless I just
    needed to ask. Appreciate it!

    • Thank you Orlando. You don’t have to know any coding or anything much technical to use a platform such as WordPress. You can copy and paste text or type it in with each entry. As far as work it’s as much work as you are able to put into it. You can post daily or more or even once a month. It’s as simple as signing up and some platforms such as blogger may be free. After that all it takes is inspiration or some mix of determination. I wish you well and if and when you decide to go ahead revisit my blog and leave a link to yours in a comment. Some of your readers will be other bloggers. Good luck. Brett

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