Normal: 19 Things
#61 in a series of wild and precious things to help you find balance.
Feb 8, 2021
(reading time: 4 min.)

TWIL (This Week I Learned)

This  week I learned. This week felt like that moment at a small desk somewhere with a stack of blue books (Remember? Anyone?) Had I been paying attention? Go: Use every little thing I could remember and stay alert, try to somehow synthesize all the information into something that makes sense.

And make it sound normal :)

I may have mentioned, I just finished a book that had been “on my list” for awhile — The Courage to be Disliked. I honestly was so pleasantly surprised by this book and I can’t recommend it more highly. Surprisingly, it is a “cliff notes” for everything Adler, the psychologist who came up at the same time (more or less) as Freud but with a very very different stance. A lot of modern therapy can be traced back to Adler, so just for that, it’s an interesting book.

The fact that it is written by a Japanese person in the form of a Socratic dialogue with another Japanese philosopher, deepened my appreciation for the book. Surprisingly.

So. I am mentioning this because the most difficult chapter for me was “The Courage to be Normal”

I finally came to peace, though, with something that has always been a challenge to me: there is this tension for some people between wanting to create meaning in the world, being told to stay small, and also being rewarded for “gold stars” (winning at life - making lots of money, winning literal awards, being able to take really stellar pictures that encapsulate your life perfectly but also in a weirdly natural way that makes everything look effortless while also unattainable)

The “gold stars” are a distraction; staying small is a very very bad idea. Creating meaning is, I think, what happens when you ignore gold stars, allow yourself to be as big as necessary (in all senses of that word) and get really good at being yourself.

It’s the essence of that chapter, imho, and as “unnormal” feeling as I can ever imagine. But also banal, quiet, calm, peaceful, and “normal” feeling. Stasis.

2. Quote

"The courage to be normal. It sounds so dull, so disappointing. But then,  given a little time, it can come to be downright liberating. Give me a  sec. As the book’s title suggests, the goal ultimately is to stop  seeking the approval of others. Only when we stop living for that will  we begin to actually live for ourselves."
― Jonathan Mendelsohn
“A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from  comparing oneself to others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s  ideal self.”  
 ―        Ichiro Kishimi,
“Three things are needed at this point: “self-acceptance,” “confidence in others,” and “contribution to others.”  
 ―        Ichiro Kishimi

3. Prompt

Please read “The Courage to be Disliked” :)

What is your reaction to this?

“If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer  have any need for recognition from others. Because one will already have  the real awareness that “I am of use to someone,” without needing to go  out of one’s way to be acknowledged by others. In other words, a person  who is obsessed with the desire for recognition does not have any community feeling yet, and has not managed to engage in self-acceptance,  confidence in others, or contribution to others.”  
 ―        Ichiro Kishimi

How do you react to the word, “normal”? What is the sense that the word gives you?

4. Quest

My son and I made up a lovely breathing exercise this week. We began by simply breathing in for 5.5 counts, out for 5.5 counts together, with one person “leading” and then the other.

We then began to sync our breathing where one would breathe in as the other breathes out. I am not sure if this exists in the world of breathing exercises - if so, later I will look for whoever I should credit with it. But this week, it just happened naturally.

We call it “Variation II” and I have felt a deep connection to him and to my surroundings each time we have done this.

It’s worth trying.

5. Level-UP / Go Deeper

I think my ask this week is to both embrace and drop the idea of “normal”

Embrace the week with compassionate non-judgement. Embrace moments of calm, stasis. Embrace the growing times, too. But notice and cherish the calm moments. Nourish yourself during those times, so that when times of growth happen ( and they will) you will be ready.

POD Poem   of the day   — (Breathe. As In. (shadow) — Rosamond S. King )

Read this one ^^^ So, so good.

  1. Course     (First  Chapter of  “Walk In The Woods”— A journal/exercise book to open you up  to new ways of seeing yourself and the world around you)
  1. Video  (The Courage to be Disliked is surprisingly stoic: Summary and Insights)

9. Hero: Fumitake Koga  — Author
Why?     I’m that grateful for this book :) Really, the simplicity of asking an expert to engage in a Socratic dialogue about a challenging subject? When done well (which I think Koga nails in this book) - it’s genius, and so, so appreciated.

10.        Take Care of  Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone  who      might  like  this. Please share with  someone  you think may  enjoy  this weekly.

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