Normal Can Be Amazing

31 Dec

Husband and I were fortunate enough to have a date night this weekend, during which we went and saw Les Miserables. (IT WAS AMAZING – in spite of Russell Crowe – but that’s neither here nor there.) Before the movie actually began, we were forced to sit through a barrage of advertisements. I’m normally pretty good at chewing my candy loud enough to save my eardrums (and brain) from the onslaught of jingles and slogans, but this time there was one that I couldn’t help but notice. It was an advertisement for Mini Cooper cars, and it began by highlighting the humdrum lives of most individuals before switching to showing how owning a Mini could make one’s life exciting. The slogan was: Normal Can Never Be Amazing. (The commercial in question plays automatically when you visit this site if you’re curious.)

Firstly, I take issue in general with the word “normal.” What is “normal?” What’s normal to me most certainly is not what’s normal to everyone, or anyone, else. But, that’s another blog entirely. Let’s pretend, for an instant, that we can agree on a stereotypical concept of normal. My life, for example, would be considered by most to be normal. I was raised in a suburb by a mother and a father with a younger brother. I graduated high school, went to college, got married and had a child. I have a house, a dog, a cat, a car and a job. To use a line from Nicholas SparksThe Notebook, “I am no one special, just a common man with common thoughts. I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me, and my name will soon be forgotten.” That’s me in a nutshell. Pretty much as “normal” as they come.

If the Mini Cooper folks had their way, I would be dismayed about this. I would agree that yes, my life can not be amazing. Clearly the answer to this is to purchase a foreign and freakishly tiny car. Fortunately for me and my wallet, I could not disagree more. My life is normal, but it is also amazing.

Agreeing to spend the rest of your life loving and cherishing another, in sickness and in health, is an amazing declaration. Love is amazing. Seeing the little plus sign appear for the first time on a pregnancy test is many things. Scary, exciting, thrilling and yes, amazing. Prenatal tests that come back with the actual word “normal” printed on them are about as amazing as they come. Don’t even get me started on the sound of a child crying for the first time or the sight of a baby taking his first steps. All of these things are astounding, breathtaking, marvelous, miraculous, spectacular, stupendous, wonderful, wondrous and absolutely without a doubt amazing. They are also, blessedly, normal.

The appearance of this commercial in my life is timely. My students and I have had several conversations lately about what the difference is between something that’s ordinary and something that’s extraordinary. (Thanks to Patricia MacLachlan and her books for the fodder for this discussion.) The answer, I think, is nothing. Things that are ordinary are extraordinary in their frequency, endurance and presence in our lives. Normal lives are amazing because they exist at all. My life is amazingly normal, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



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