Wednesday, December 24, 2014


The Fluid Normal

Before I begin I don't want this to turn into some big nonduality rant. That is not my intention. That said I do think it is important to look at the duality of thought in American culture to describe my concept of a 'fluid normal'. Dualism on a philosophical level is just thinking of things as opposing forces. Good vs Evil. Happy vs Sad. Healthy vs Sick. Balanced vs Unbalanced. Normal vs Abnormal. The problem with this for me is this sets a pretty unattainable goal and does not acknowledge the importance of all the different shades of gray for perspective and fully appreciating each moment for what it is. In this case that is the definition of non-duality I am working with. Not thinking of two diametrically opposed forces or states but rather a smear. I also like to look at it as a circular smear. Remember the yin-yang. No beginning or end and an infinite number of sides.  

I took a class in college called Philosophy and Fantasy. In that class we analyzed the philosophy in science fiction classics. One discussion in particular has always stuck with me. In the Philip K. Dick story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the characters are in possession of a machine called a mood organ. The mood organ allows them to dial up any mood. Most use the mood organ to be happy all the time. The main character's wife decides to occasionally dial an emotion other than happiness or not dial an emotion at all. In this she is lending importance to the gambit of emotion.

Let's think then of this in the context of a fluid normal. When we describe something as fluid we are describing a point that is not fixed, shifting, changing. Interestingly, if we look at the etymology, the word "fluid" comes the Latin root "flu" which means "to flow". A concept of a changing, shifting, flowing normal is similar in concept to an active idea of balance. Even the most experienced yogi will tell you that physical balance is not the same from day to day or even moment to moment. Rather than getting frustrated, take note. Experience the moment for what it is. I believe that every moment has the potential to make is aware of something... if we are willing to listen.  

A buzz word that is going around right now is mindfulness. There are many layers to this concept. It is Buddhist concept that is thousands of years old and is a hot topic in modern day western psychology. There are many people way smarter than me about it so I'm not going to go into it. That said, when I think deeply about this concept I come up with one central tenant as it applies to me. Experience each moment for what it is. Non-judgmentally. To me this is the fluid normal. To get to that idea the first step for me was making peace with the fact that a single state of normal does not exist and that the dualist concept of normal is full of judgment. Like I said before it is impossible to hit a target that is always moving or doesn't exist.

The challenge that I found once I started wrapping my mind around this concept was not being judgmental of my non-judgmentalness. Am I being non-judgmental enough? Am I trying not to try hard enough? Let me explain. With both the brain surgery and later the diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis I found it difficult to distinguish between things that everyone has to deal with and things that could be attributed to after effects of surgery or the symptoms of MS. Moreover I found myself not wanting to blame anything on those things. To me that meant admitting the disease was getting the better of me and I was letting it into my psyche. Then I found myself starting to swing to the other extreme and think every physical malady could be be blamed on one of those things. I realized though that it was somewhere in the middle. Balance. The other thing I realized is it was not particularly important the source and, in the spirit of being in the moment, I just found personal value in experiencing every moment for what it is. Thinking about a cause or what tomorrow might be like is not dealing with now and not particularly productive.   

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