Normal Is Nice
May 8, 2009 by rtwsenior
These days, I’m appreciating “normal,” after four months of living as a stranger in many countries, in frequently unfamiliar circumstances. At the time, I would usually be marveling to myself about how “normal” it felt to be walking around in some spot which I had always considered superlative when studying a map…say, in a small plane hovering over the Nasca Lines; scrambling among the ruins of Machu Picchu; or hiking in Tierra del Fuego, down there at the very bottom of the world.
At the actual moment when I was there, soaking in the scenery, THAT felt normal. The truth is that for each human being, wherever we might happen to be is “Here” to us and everyone else is “Elsewhere,” if they are not on the scene with us. We can’t avoid the reality of standing in the center of our own universe, even if we would really rather be elsewhere, such as back at home.
Have you ever pinched yourself and said: “I’m at the Taj Mahal” so that you could appreciate the wonder of it all and not just let that realization slip away unnoticed? I have, and I was doing it again as I enjoyed the Fall leaves down there at Cape Horn, as close as I’ll ever get to Antarctica. It felt like other mountains & meadows spots I’ve been in, such as Colorado, but it was this extreme place on the maps of the world. Magellan was here…although I understand that he stayed on his ship and didn’t walk about like I was doing. The ground right under my feet was the place where all those fires were built by the pretty-much naked indigenous natives. In that cold climate, they only slung animal skins over their shoulders. No wonder they built so many bonfires! Magellan called the place, “Land of Fire” when he saw them.
But, as wondrous as those exotic places might have been, I wouldn’t have wanted a life sentence to reside there forever. In fact, I frequently caught myself wistfully remembering my very comfortable bed and my completely darkened, quiet bedroom back home if I was trying to adjust to the concave hostel mattress or a place far too light or too noisy for my tastes. Sometimes, when facing a plateful of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol food I’d been eating for many weeks, I would think of my kitchen where I could chase up something appealing to me.
And I would often think of how much fun it would be when the day came for my Mother Tongue to surround me once more; when television and movies would suddenly make sense; menus would again cause my mouth to water; sidewalks would not be full of hidden problems for the footing; and the weather would be balmy and warm.
In exchange upon return, I’ve given up some things: a less expensive lifestyle; fabulous public transportation; easy shopping for lovely handcrafts and high-quality jewelry, alpaca and wool clothing, beautiful leathers, weavings of all sorts; gifts and decorator items; and reasonably-priced health care, as well as a constantly changing supply of very interesting and friendly people.
So, I’m back to normal again. And I do completely appreciate the fact that life is pretty much the way that I left it. I can slip right back into this old pair of shoes that is my homelife even though so many people in this country are undergoing horrendous changes due to the dislocations of this economy. They might long for a normal that can never be returned to if a home is in foreclosure or a job has evaporated. They might dream of a good bed in a nice dark, quiet bedroom that once was theirs, while sharing a crowded home with several generations in today’s sudden awful reality.
I hope that I can continue to pinch myself every now and then and say, “You’re home and everything is back to normal!”
And, I plan to continue blogging at the risk of becoming boring. Normal is not always that exciting. But, life is interesting and this seems to be one of the basic requirements for me. I’m always starting something and predictably, it will probably be another book. You’ve already been down that path with me once. Heaven knows if I can make it sound original again in a blog, but maybe I won’t dwell on it here. Could be, something else will crop up as well. Stay tuned to find out.