Normal — To Be or Not To Be

Okay, I admit it. I am such a sap for watching a movie or program or reading something and getting so spun up and excited about how “the message” speaks to me. It’s like little jewels of wisdom dropping out of the air, just waiting for me to pick them up and put my own little spin on them.

My latest gems are about relationships, kind of, but not entirely. Because relationships have a lot to do with “you” — who you are, how you perceive yourself, how you perceive the world, and how you perceive yourself in the world.

Anyway, I watched the movie “All About Steve” recently. It’s another movie with Sandra Bullock in it, and I don’t think it got any great reviews or anything, probably wasn’t even in the theatre very long, but it is my kind of movie — quirky characters, humor, and just fun. I’m not much into movies that are brilliant in an arty, cinematography, save-the-world, message-of-the-day, kind of way. I just want to be entertained in an empty, pointless, kind of way.

Anyway, the movie is mainly about Mary Horowitz going on a blind date with a guy named Steve. Mary is a smart, unusual woman, who doesn’t get asked out too much, creates crossword puzzles for a living, talks way too much, and always wears a pair of high, shiny, bright red boots.

Steve makes some statement on their very brief date that Mary takes literally, which leads her to chase after Steve when he has to run off suddenly to cover a breaking news story, as he’s a camera man. Steve thinks Mary is a psycho stalker and tries to avoid her, but one of the news reporters eggs Mary on to thinking Steve really wants her to follow him.

So that’s the jist of the movie.

At one point, Mary is lamenting about things said to her that led her to believe Steve was interested in her and she says,

“Words people! Words! There are meaningful words, there are pointless words, and then there are words that hurt! 
Mary why can’t you be like every other girl?
Mary where do you get all that useless information?
Mary why do you talk like that?
Oh and the piece de-resistance, Mary why do you wear those stupid red boots all the time?
You want to know why? I wear them because they make my toes feel like ten friends on a camping trip. That’s why I wear them!”

Okay, that’s kind of a weird, but I totally get what she’s saying. We all have our red boots or our cowboy boots (or our red cowboy boots).

It may not even be an article of clothing. it might be the bike or the horse we love to ride. It might be our favorite pen or paint. It could be anything, but it’s something that makes us feel good. It’s the outward celebration of who we are.

As Mary realizes that Steve doesn’t want anything to do with her, she tries to explain why he was so important to her — “He was my ticket to normal.”

Oh boy. That ticket to normal — to being normal, to hanging out with normal people, to be accepted and thus acceptable. It’s a light that we who are weird are so strongly drawn to. No! No! Don’t step into the light!

I’ve been told that everyone feels a little different, a little misunderstood, and at times, everyone experiences the feeling of not fitting in. The difference comes when it overwhelms you and makes you feel so bad you are pretty sure there is no place in the world for you. I used to think I felt the way I do because I’m adopted. Then it was because I had silver front teeth and pointy glasses. Then it was because I was so horribly shy. Then it was because I had a gay child. And now it’s because I’m single again in my 50s.

But in none of those situations am I alone. I have seen and met fellow aliens. And I am learning not to seek normal anymore or to try to be normal, because what the heck is that anyway but BORING!

This is the way that Mary Horowitz expressed it,
“New York Times crossword editor Will Short says that we have a natural compulsion to fill empty spaces. I’d like to think he means not just crossword puzzles, but the empty spaces inside of us that come from making your way in a world that doesn’t always embrace unique. I tried to fill my empty spaces with words and puzzles and Steve. But that wasn’t the answer. Now I know in the journey of life, just find someone as ‘normal’ as you.”

One final Mary Horowitz quote,

“If life is like a crossword puzzle, it should be judged in the same way.

Is it solvable?
Is it entertaining?
Does it sparkle?”

Solvable? — I’m waiting for all the planets to align, for the house to sell, for a new home to appear, and for space and time to open up in my life to make room for new people and experiences.
Entertaining? — Oh, my, yes!
Sparkle? — There’s a glow. I’m still getting overwhelmed at times and pile on too many logs and manage to suffocate the flame, but I’m learning.

How about you? Is your life like a crossword puzzle?

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  1. More like a jigsaw, most of the pieces have fallen into place by now, there’s still that little missing piece of never having met my father, never will now he died.Sometimes the box slips out of my hand, like last Sunday and all the bits go up in the air and have to be put back together.Adopted is hard but we’re survivors if we’re lucky and work at it.

  2. Von – I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to meet your father. I met mine but feel like I frittered away what little time we had together. It just wasn’t long enough but it was such a huge piece of the puzzle, meeting him.

  3. More like a word find..searching for the right words. I like the quote about the boots..yes I also find comfort in things, my favorite crocs..and pencils..just simple things that make me comfortable..oh and my Pillow..I don’t sleep well without it:)

  4. What an interesting post…I just might have to look for that movie.
    I especially like the question “does it sparkle?” We all need a little of that. Do you realize how different your writing has become (content)? You sound so grounded and ready to move on.

  5. I my opinion normal is way overrated. I’m different, I see things different than others. I love to have fun. My students used to say ,”Mrs. Nezzy you are weird.” I would reply, ” I’m now weird, I’m just unique…we are all unique!” ‘Guess that’s why I shined in Special Ed.

    I can feel you shinnin’ through this post and it makes me smile.

    God bless and have a beautiful day sweetie!!!

  6. Great post Maery! Normal is boring! One thing about life that I have discovered is that you need to enjoy the “solvables” when they occur. Also just do not let the sparkle die. Find joy in every moment and don’t be scared.

  7. Lori – Thanks. That’s good to hear.

    Nezzy – I can tell you are a fellow weirdo… I mean, unique individual. You have such a great sense of humor! I believe you have plenty of sparkle in your life.

    Jill – Not being scared… that is my biggest challenge. But finding joy is getting easier and that helps with the fear factor.

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