December 6, 2012


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The pursuit of normal: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

A great deal of the lives we live and the societies we have built revolve around the creation of a “normal” life. They are structured. They have rules. These rules create expectations—expectations around our behavior. If we don’t operate within these expectations, we waste energy and resources. It is a necessity for a large society such as ours to function.

I wonder at times, if it’s pulling the humanity out of our lives. I’ve written before that our growing dependence on technology is in danger of cutting off our connection to our humanity(yes, I’m aware that my working at a technology company is ironic). But I also think our modern social compact is a danger to it too. Life is bittersweet. It has its highs and it has its lows. It is a journey where we are all leveled with the same beginning and ending. The middle part—to a large degree —is up to us. You may be born with advantages or disadvantages. You can live your life as a saint or as a tyrant. In the end, you will still die.

Is our modern government dulling the living of life? Governments can be built to take the sting out of our failures. They can be built to take the rewards from our success. Not so long ago, our greatest fears were finding our next meal or keeping our village from being raided. Now it’s keeping our health insurance if we get fired. Or wondering how our 401K is doing. Maybe they are not all that different. Maybe it really is progress. Doesn’t seem so.

I’m not advocating anarchy. Nor any libertarian fantasy (at least not yet). I’m just pointing out that that battle—the battle of providing resources for all and taking the sting out of life is a battle that cannot be won. Because it is a battle against the very nature of our existence. The more we try to anesthetize life through our culture or our law, the more we lose our individual identity and—I believe—the ability to find our own meaning through the living of our life—good times and bad. Highs and lows.

But we avoid it. In order to life a normal life. What is a normal life? I’m pretty sure it’s not health insurance, low interest mortgages, credit cards, direct deposit paychecks or shark week.

The longer I live. The more I live. The less I think that’s normal.

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