Discerning Your Normality
The Bali TimesÂ
SEMINYAK ~ We all have a clear idea of what normal is, and can get quite upset if something outside of that occurs.Â Yet individual ideas of what is normal vary hugely. Is normal really a way of saying â€œItâ€™s slipped off the map of things I notice?â€
Dani, an Indonesian, has a fashion business in Bali. Feeling frustrated, she explained how â€œsmall, medium, and largeâ€ meant very different things to the different manufacturers she uses.
â€œI told them small, meaning European small, and they made them so tiny I couldnâ€™t even get one arm into them!â€ she said.
Of course, Asians are much smaller than most Europeans. So Asian small is European teeny weeny weeny. Most Asians would be swamped by a European or Australian large and completely overwhelmed by extra-large.Â Dani explained how she overcame this by giving precise written measurements of what small, medium and large meant to her â€“ and not merely accepting what was normal for here. She defined her idea of normal, and shared it.
Meditation on The Invisibility of Normal
Relax, breathe and find yourself at the shimmery doorway to another dimension, with a guide. Step, float or somehow convey yourself through the doorway and experience a different feeling of normal. Notice how the things you normally do have a different result here.Â Continue to experiment for as long as you wish. Ask your guide to help or explain if needed. The guide leads you to a camera-like lens and you look through it to watch yourself in your normal form and dimension.Â Watch for as long as you wish. When ready, gently return to the room with a new perspective.
Family background has a big influence on our idea of normal. In some families â€œa discussionâ€ means a reasonable, calm chat. In others it may mean yelling, plate throwing and drama. Such styles depend on your nationality and family habits. In relationships, this brings surprises â€“ one partner (from the â€œsitting reasonably having a chatâ€ family) says â€œLetâ€™s have a discussionâ€ â€“ the other partner (from plate-smashers anonymous) is scared, expecting the drama that is normal for them, makes an excuse not to talk and runs away. The first partner is perplexed. This couple is operating from a different instruction set of normal. To overcome such issues, describe in more detail what you mean. For example, say â€œI would like to sit with you and have a quiet talk about how we each feel about this without judging.â€ Donâ€™t assume that your normal looks anything like the other personâ€™s normal, because it may not … fit.
Cultural differences have vast effects on â€œnormalityâ€ â€“ even fairly close cultures like England and Australia. I remember asking an Australian partner whether the tap water was drinkable in Australia (mindful of my experiences of unpotable European water and dirty brown drippings in Russia). He was super-offended â€“ â€œOf course it is!â€ he practically yelled.Â I had tapped into not only my lack of experience of Australia, but also the Australian national pride and feeling of Australia as being â€œthe best country in the world.â€ Oops. To him it was obvious how the water was in Australia. To me it was unknown. Thatâ€™s a gap in normality for you. We may get angry and frustrated when our normal is not understood or recognized â€“ but we may just need to notice and articulate what our idea of normal is, even to ourselves.
Staff who work in travel and tourism make great cultural leaps every day, as they interpret, cook and serve food that is completely alien to them, in a different language, in an environment that is so very different from their own background. Itâ€™s worth remembering that the person serving you â€œmay not be from here,â€ which can be almost as far as being from another planet. I remember experiencing culture shock in Japan â€“ I had to wear slippers when walking on the tatami matting and was barefoot everywhere else (or was it the other way around?). Anyway, I kept getting it wrong and had this very odd feeling of being out of place. Truly â€œforeignâ€ for the first time.
Discernment is the art of being able to notice, appreciate and enjoy subtle differences. The taste of a particular brand of beer. The fact that the sea is incredibly clear today whereas yesterday it was not. That a particular make of swimming costume hugs the body in a wonderful way that makes it look and feel so good â€“ a hundred times more so than this other make in a different and not-so-springy fabric.Â To be able to discern, you must be willing to accept yourself as different and specific, and to avoid the desire for everything to be â€œthe same and equally nice.â€ (Which could mean bland). â€œEverythingâ€™s the same, isnâ€™t it? Iâ€™m the same as everyone else, arenâ€™t I?â€ the undiscerning (and undiscerned) person may think. Err, no. You are not.Â Try this:
Meditation â€“ Discerning yourself
Relax, breathe and find yourself at the bottom of a well. It is dark and damp but there is no water and the bricks are being removed and re-pointed by elves. They are taking out the bricks and showing you. Some are green; this one is golden; here is one made of emerald. Touch, feel, notice the difference. Weigh the differences. As the elves remove the blocks, a doorway is created. You gesture â€œmay I?â€ they affirm and you walk through into a high dark passageway tinged with light from above. â€œMe?â€ you ask yourself. â€œIs this me?â€ And you feel the inner nod, the answer â€œyesâ€ from within. The passageway opens into a huge vaulted hall which you are free to explore as long as you wish. A wise guide appears to assist if you need it. Explore and notice as much as you want. You may read any books that you find. When ready, gently return to the room.
(Names and details have been changed to protect identities.)
Next issue:Â Lemurian Dreaming
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