Some things that are normal:
- Working nine till five.
- Working Monday to Friday, and having weekends off.
- Buying a house in your late-twenties or early-thirties.
- Owning a car.
- Having a television in the living room.
- Having four weeks of holiday a year.
- Commuting to work.
- Eating meat.
- Having kids.
- Getting married.
- Using social media.
- Drinking alcohol.
All these things are, as they say, par for the course. But what if they’re not? Yes, they are “normal” if you define “normal” as what the majority of a culture does. But what if you define “normal” as what’s natural for a species? In that case, a lot of what we call normal is, in fact, not normal.
Human beings didn’t evolve to live by the ticking of a clock. It is not in our DNA to work five-on, two-off. We have legs and arms, not to operate the pedals and steering wheel of a car, but to run and climb and swim. We possess sight and hearing and smell and touch and taste, not so we can become addicted to the stimuli given out by eerie blue rectangles called screens, but so we can experience the surrounding environment in all it’s splendour and intensity.
There are so many things about modern life that, when you think about it, aren’t normal, but are quirks of our past and present culture. We eat meat and fish far more regularly than our ancestors did. Chicken today, pork tomorrow, beef the day after, salmon on Saturday, lamb for Sunday’s roast.
I’m not saying that we should change all of this at once. That we should shun all these established, and in a lot of cases, beneficial practises. I just think that, as part of an effort to cultivate a more deliberate and intentional existence, we should remember that most of what we consider normal isn’t actually that normal, and make the effort to reconsider our relationship with these “normal” ideas and behaviours.