professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Facing the blank page

There are days when I come to this blog without a definitive idea of what will emerge. And there are plenty of other times when I have so many different topics that it seems almost impossible o settle on one. But it does not seem to matter that the blank page occasionally mocks me. I know sooner or later an idea will emerge. Lately, the sermons at Sunday services have been a treasure trove for me. Yesterday was no exception. It was a throw-away line really, toward the end of the homily. "Normal is not necessarily right."

There is so much packed into those 5 words, isn't there? We talk a great deal about the judgment involved with the word "normal." What is normal? Is normal an absolute (related question: are there absolutes in life?)? Who gets to define normal? What if the definition of normal does not subsume who or what we are? These are questions I have wrestled with over the years. When you grow up in a single parent household during the 50s in a Catholic community, you are not "normal" by those standards. When your body size exceeds standards, you are nor "normal." When you are a grandparent rearing grandchildren, things are not "normal," There are so many instances where who we are and what we do are somehow deemed as not fitting into those "normal" parameters.

And, of course, how many of the people we know and love, the students who are and ave been in our classes, the people we meet almost by accident would be looked at as not "normal." I suspect many more of us fail to fit narrow parameters. But we soldier on.

For me, the escape and the comfort came in the form of books. Nancy Drew was no more normal than I was. Neither was Cherry Ames, Sue Barton, and the other strong females who graced the books I devoured. Somehow they reassured mw that normal was perhaps not something to be pursued. Perhaps normal was overrated?

Books continue to do this for generation after generation of readers. And they still work their magic for me even as a grown reader who is often reading books for much younger audiences. There is the constant reminder that normal is neither right or wrong. That it is not absolute. That it is often the attempt of someone outside our lives to define who we should be instead of celebrating who we are.

And that is one of the great gifts that come with reading: the reassurance that there are others like us, others who are still discovering who and what they are, others who find their own niches in the world.
Tags: books, normalcy, reading
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