no normal

    I remember how relieved I was when I first heard someone say, “This is the new normal.” I was always trying to resist change, and I’d never, ever succeeded. The idea of a “new normal” allowed me to relax, no longer fighting pointlessly against the continuous change that is reality.

    Recently, though, I’ve had to update the concept “new normal.” Change has gotten so incredibly zippy and sustained that it’s pretty obvious the only “new normal” possible anymore is “no normal.”

    Now, the word “normal” comes from the Latin “norma,” meaning a carpenter’s square (not to be confused with “norma rae,” meaning a small feisty union leader). “Normal” things conform to precise measurements and angles. They’re consistent. Predictable. Just like…pretty much nothing that will ever happen to you from now on.

    Take the weather. Please. Meteorologists were onto global warming when I was a kid, but no one predicted the weather patterns it’s creating now: the mega-drought parching us Californians, five-foot snow dumps in New England, my kids in Tucson complaining about all the rain. Economist Thomas Friedman recently labeled this “global weirding.” And it’s just going to keep getting weirder.

    The same thing’s happening in other aspects of our lives. All institutions are unstable, all situations fluid. In such an environment, letting go of normal is the best thing you can do for yourself. It puts you in “don’t-know mind,” the Zen ideal of being fully present, observant, and accepting of whatever happens.

    So what’s that you say? Pluto got fired from being a planet? Geneticists combined the DNA of spiders and goats and created goats whose milk turns to spider silk? You can now buy bacon-flavored toothpaste? Bruce Jenner felt like a woman all along? None of that surprises me. Ain’t nothing surprising up in here—not since I embraced the No Normal.

    So my advice to you is to drop-kick whatever attachment you have to a square, predictable, normal life, and embrace the global weirding of everything. I’ve found that when no normal becomes your new normal, the weirdness can be a damn fine ride.