“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.”
-Ellen Goodman (American Journalist and Pulitzer prize winner)
Normal is one of those words that when you just stare at it or say it over and over again it begins to lose it’s meaning and just look weird.
Try it with me. Seriously, say it out loud,
“normal normal normal normal normal normal norrmal nurmal nullmull nallmall nawwmaww momal murmal…”
And that’s quite a fitting phenomenon because being “normal” in our modern society can often lead people to live a life devoid of meaning.
Yes, I am saying if we’re not careful life can become a vicious cycle of debt, drudgery, poor health, and no time or energy to do anything about it.
Amazingly, it’s what we are taught to do! And I’ve been there, deep into thoughts of hopelessness. And while, I’m still in the process of clawing my way out of the machine, I consider myself fortunate enough to have figured out that there are options beyond what we consider normal.
Before we go too deep, let’s clear something up. There is nothing wrong with working a normal 9-5 job if it makes you happy. But there are far too many people that claim to be miserable while working stifling jobs in stiff, controlling, corporate environments, devoid of basic human needs and freedoms.
These people get on Facebook at the beginning of each week, post about how awful Mondays are, drag their tired lifeless bodies through the work-week, then post about how excited they are that it’s finally Friday! Then they try to cram a week’s worth of family time, errands, joy, and experiences into the quickly-passing weekend.
If there was a magic fast-forward button that people could press each Monday morning to skip right through the week and jump to Friday at 5pm, I bet that a majority of Americans would gladly push that button. That means that a majority of Americans would gladly skip over most of their lives to get to the few pleasant hours that they get each week.
We spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, working a job we don’t like, commuting 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. We spend up to an hour each morning getting ready and some of us are checking email and taking work calls into the evening up to the time the go to bed to restart the cycle.
That’s 50+ hours a week dedicated to doing something that makes you unhappy, and some people work even more than that. Furthermore, it’s the 50+prime hours of the day! And sure we get the evenings to do what we want, but most people are too tired by that time to do anything worthwhile, so we plop down in front of the TV and wait for bed-time.
Let me just pose this question: How often do you see the sun in the winter? How often does sunlight touch your skin unfiltered by the panes of glass near your cubicle or your car window?
Did you answer something like, “only a few minutes while you walk from your parking spot to the office”?
If it is, and this makes you unhappy, then why not do something about it? Start today. Take action. Change it.
I know that someone out there will take this the wrong way. They’ll see the image at the top of this post and take insult in the fact that I am suggesting people are often like sheep. But in the end, all I am suggesting is that you never settle. I know I won’t.
These are all clichéd sayings but if you think about them instead of just reading the words and moving on, you can bring their meaning back.
So, let’s close with my favorite inspirational quote, one which I often see posted without its latter half, which I think is perfectly appropriate:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain