What is Normal?

I’m reading ‘The Secret Garden’. Written in 1911 … Mary is brought up in India where ‘normality’ is empire, exploitation and privilege; remarkably relevant today …

Her parents die and so she is sent to live in England with an uncle. In a remote house on the Yorkshire Moors she starts to discover a new ‘normal’:

‘Four good things had happened to her since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a Robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for someone.’

Musing… perhaps these ‘four good things’ are a good basis for normality…

  • Mary noticed and talked to a Robin… Normal is noticing the wild flower by the road, the smells of autumn, the wind through the trees, the pattern of the clouds – and standing back in wonder.

This spiritual dimension to normality… musing on ‘The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength’. (1Corinthians1:25)

  • In Mary’s privileged life everything was done for her. She was now enjoying exercise! Today cars, looking at screens and sedentary occupation prevent exercise. Normal is enjoying exercise – walking, running, swimming…
  • Mary’s inactive life had led to an indifference to food. Today we ‘need’ either fast, unhealthy food, or the latest fad, fashion or diet. Normal is a healthy attitude to food – enjoying what is good and wholesome without obsession.
  • Mary was, for the first time, noticing people. Previously Indians were her servants – to do as she wanted. Many still see those around them as solely for their benefit. Normal is noticing and showing empathy to those around us…

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