Do You Appreciate 'Normal'?

Disabled businessman sitting in a wheelchair at the conference table in board room and working with his colleague together. B
Disabled businessman sitting in a wheelchair at the conference table in board room and working with his colleague together. Back view, unrecognizable people.

If you haven't seen the movie Unbroken, you should. The movie is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in World War II, only to fight for his life against nature and eventually as a prisoner of war. It was powerful, painful, and most importantly, shockingly eye-opening. But that's not the reason I'm writing this article (although I am an avid movie-goer, I'm certainly not a reviewer -- although that sounds like a fun second career!). I actually have been meaning to write about this for quite some time -- the concept of "normal."

Most people take "normal" for granted.

We are all so busy chasing the almighty dollar or looking for something "better," that we don't stop to look at what we DO have ... the "normal" things.

What does "normal" mean? It means different things to different people, but basically, I am defining it as "having nothing really bad going on in your life ... especially the BIG things."

Unfortunately, I know WAY too many people who have had their "normal" basically destroyed -- and for some of them, it's gone forever. Here are just some of the examples. These people are either close friends, casual friends, or acquaintances of mine:

This past January, one of my best friends was admitted into the hospital indefinitely because he needed a heart transplant. He is a vibrant, caring 45-year-old man who is full of life but needed a heart transplant ASAP. And that is why he was in the hospital until he got out one way or another -- either by getting a new heart, or by dying. During that time, he had to accept the fact that he might not make it. He had to get his affairs in order, from life insurance to his will. His "normal" was completely shattered for a while. Luckily, his story turned out well. After waiting almost two months in intensive care, he finally received his new heart the day before his birthday (the best birthday gift he has ever received). But you see, even though he is alive and doing well now, his "normal" is not the same. Getting a transplant completely changes your life -- in good ways, but also in complicated ones as well.

I also have two former students who are fighting very different battles of their own. For one, her 4-year-old daughter has been fighting a brain tumor for 2 ½ years, and it's getting to the point where doctors say they can't do anything more for the girl. Not only was their "normal" taken away from them with the cancer diagnosis, they are now facing another devastating change - losing their daughter.

Another former student of mine has been fighting her own unlikely disease called gastroparesis. This dreaded disease basically paralyses the digestive system. In other words, she cannot eat food anymore -- she can only be tube-fed. Because of this, she has not only come to the brink of death many times, she has faced many devastating consequences such has having half of one her legs amputated. And the worst part it, this disease is often fatal. Imagine how her "normal" has been destroyed. It's unfathomable, isn't it?

Unfortunately, I know of many more people who have had their "normal" taken away from them forever. I could keep writing more stories, but sadly, this article would get too long.

I think you get the point. These people's "normal" is shattered ... for the rest of their lives.

So when is the last time you appreciated "normal?" When was the last time you gave thanks for your health, your loved one's health/safety, a roof over your head, and the ability to eat and digest food? When is the last time you said, "I am so thankful that everything is 'normal'?"

We should even appreciate the "little" things when they are normal, too. For example, recently my house has been needing a lot of repairs. Broken toilets, leaking pipes, a garage door that is possessed and has a mind of its own, just to name a few. And every time I hear myself begin sigh with disgust and wonder "why me?" ... I quickly remind myself that "Hey, this is NOTHING!!" If these are my "problems" right now ... I'll take it!!"

This goes beyond appreciation. We all probably give thanks when something good and out-of-the-ordinary happens to us (new job, winning the lottery, meeting our soul mate, etc.). But do you ever give thanks for "normal?"

I do. And you should too.

Normal can be really good. You just need to recognize that fact.