Wednesday, December 19, 2012

normal, abnormal and Photoshop

The local newspaper's lead, page-one headline yesterday was "I don't know if there's normal any more." The headline was excerpted from the morass of remarks erupting after last Friday's elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn. -- a massacre that left 20 children between the ages of five and ten dead. Within that context, the headline had a compelling force: Kids going to school is normal. Kids and their teachers being shot to death in school is certainly not.

Intellectually, it may be fun to point out that "normal" has no real meaning outside its relationship to what is abnormal, but in a living-life sense, there is a world of assumption and belief -- close to boredom but a little peppier -- that does shape what is normal.

Being uncertain is a troubling diet, even when it is closer to the truth that everything changes. A firm, if wispy, set of assumptions seems to grow up like toadstools after a rain storm. I breathe, I walk, I talk, I think, I eat, I feel, I vote, I make money, I love, I grow tomatoes ...  and lots of other silky strands that, like literal silk, have powerful abilities.

It's normal.

Or is it abnormal?

Perhaps it is normal right up until the moment when it becomes abnormal... and then seeks out the normal in the wryly appropriate phrase, "the new normal."

Normal and abnormal ... who makes this shit up?

Maybe it's best just to assume that everything is Photoshop even when it's not.

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