Everybody is different – so what is normal?

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is just how different everybody is. Everything from how some people drink tea not coffee all the way up to how some people “think” in pictures and some in “words”.

Pretty Pictures…

As I have said before I am very much a “Pictures” brain kinda person. I see and remember things as pictures. The discussions about Mental Arithmetic in the last couple of Blogs made me realise that when I try to work out a maths problem – I see the numbers as a picture in front of me. A multiplication or division is worked out by stacking blocks of numbers along a line to make up the answer. A division is just a matter of looking along the line of numbers for the right point to make a split. Thinking about that made me realise why I have always been better at estimating things quite well – but the finer details are always not so great. I can get a big picture quite easily – but “zooming” in to see the exact number takes a while – and if I need an exact answer it takes ages as I have to “move” each block around the picture , trying to keep track of where things are …. By this point the physical side of my brain has already found the closest calculator and the sociological part is trying to figure out if using it would be more “acceptable” than giving an incorrect answer!

My whole brain is hard wired this way. I cant even begin to understand someone who “thinks” differently to me. I dont think that’s me being pigheaded or arrogant – “I” exist in a world of pictures – every thought, memory, calculation exists as a picture. I dont have the foundation to understand how someone else’s brain might be different.

Its a wonder then that we can even get along and communicate when we all work in different ways. Communication is a flippin hard thing. It takes years to figure out the basics – and we all make mistakes on a daily basis. I have got in to trouble (as in written letters of complain level trouble) at work because I really struggle to communicate effectively or appropriately sometimes. I am working on it and just being aware of it has really helped. Having people around me who understand also really helps. Only last week I was deeply upset by something someone at work said – I stormed back in to the office and started writing an email about the incident – Leigh very kindly and quickly said ” erm …. do you want me to write it …..”

Normal?

Especially following recent events – I have talked about things returning to “normal” … But I have been pondering that this whole “Normal” thing is, well, a bit odd.

As I said in my “And then there were 3” posts, Jacks death and the sadness that surrounds it will be something that I will have as a part of me for the rest of my life – there is no “normal” now – and certainly no returning to it

But I dont think that’s a bad thing – everything I encounter changes and influences who I am – some things like the desperately short life of Jack will affect me in big ways – others like my walk back from the park this afternoon with Amy will probably have an in-perceivable, unquantifiable affect. But it will affect me. It will change me.

So as I am constantly changing, and so is everyone else around me – what is normal. And why is it so important to return to it ..?

To be honest I dont really know

Blue and Green

My picture based brain tells me that the concept of normality is so important simply because deep down we are aware that everything is changing – like the ever changing view from a window on a train – deep down we are aware that everything is different – nothing is normal. But we choose to hold on to the image of the sky being blue and at the top of the page, the grass being green and at the bottom. That “normality” gives us somewhere constant to hang the little changes that are happening all the time. The sheep going by in the fields. The forest that passes by in a minute, the unused station that flashes past in the blink of an eye.  It makes it all much easier to deal with and to process. That “normality” is probably the only thing that keep us sane

Sorry to all you wordies reading this – I am going to take that image a little further – as it helps me with something else that I have been pondering …

If you have ever looked out of the train window at the scenery flowing by. You can, I think, watch in a couple of different ways. I think its quite similar to how we all view life and “get through it”. I dont think we all view life in one way all the time, some people will change minute by minute, some will have one view for most of the time only occasionally switching to other views as things come up. I dont think that there is one view that is the correct view – each has its advantages and disadvantages.  I am sure there are many more variations on these – but here are just a few that my picture brain had been pondering

“Whoah what was that”

You can look out of the window and get mesmerized by the things passing quickly by just outside they window. These things are new, exciting, constantly changing, they are very close to you but pass in an instant. For that brief moment that funny shaped bush, that signal, that tree, that car, that house, is your whole world. Your brain will work overtime to process as much information about it as possible in that instant. But then it is gone.
Looking out of the window like this means you are probably quite likely to spot your station when you pull in – unless you are in the loo being sick due to the fast moving objects induced motion sickness…..
However you are very unlikely to see the beautiful mountain range up ahead, a few stops beyond where you were planning to get off ….

“I dont like tunnels”

You can peer out of the window looking down the train to try and spot the tunnels up ahead. A tunnel can be a scary thing – it comes out of nowhere and suddenly everything changes, no blue sky, no green grass, just darkness. How long will it last? Will it ever end? What exactly is that light up ahead in the darkness? A light on the wall? A reflection? The end of the Tunnel? Another Train?
It can be very tempting to be like this – knowing what’s coming up ahead and being able to prepare for it is very useful – But at the end of the day you are on a train. There is not a lot you can do about the tunnels ahead. That thing you spot in the distance may well be a mile long, dark tunnel – or it could be a bridge ….
Sure the darkness and loss of all that has been “normal” is a bit of a jolt – but actually when you are in the tunnel have you noticed that a whole other unique view becomes available – one that is only fleetingly visible. The darkness outside means you can suddenly see your own reflection in the glass – and the reflection of the travelers around you in the train. For that fleeting moment in your journey you get a chance to spot that you managed to smear that chocolate bar you just ate all round your face so you now look like a 3 year old …. Or that the person sitting next to you could really do with a friendly smile …

“I wonder what those mountains are like to climb?”

This is probably the most relaxed way to get through a train journey – (apart from sleeping but that kinda messes up the “picture” so we are not going there right now …)
Looking out of the window at the objects in the distance slowly moving by is very easy – nothing changes very quickly. It is a very constant, stable view. The fast moving objects just inches away from your nose pass so quickly that you just dont see them. The mountains are so far away that your brain can wander and fill in the details that your eyes cant make out.
When you pass through a tunnel it can come as a shock, but actually you know that your view of the mountains will be back soon, slightly different – but that’s ok. It gives your brain more room to wander. In fact you may be so lost in thought about what it would be like to climb those mountains you might not even realise you just passed though a tunnel.
But that also means you may well miss your station ….
And it will almost certainly mean you wont spot the sad reflection of the person sitting next to you.

A blur of blue and grey

We are all on that train – looking out the same windows at the same views. Our brains are all wired differently so we all see those same things differently. Where one person sees a house, another sees a blue and grey blur. Its how we react to the things we see that really matters.

As a Christian I am confident that I know where the train is heading, I dont know the details of the route or how long the track ahead is. I know that there is a driver in the train. I cant “prove” it to all the other passengers. For starters we couldn’t all fit in the cab of the train at the same time, and more importantly i dont have the key to the door. But that’s ok.

I am quite happy to sit and look at the scenery. Keeping an eye out for my station, occasionally glancing ahead to see if i can see a tunnel but mainly looking out at the trees and the fields as they pass by. I will try to keep an eye out for the person in the train needing a smile and I hope its not just in the tunnels that i take time to look. I hope that how I react to the ever changing beautiful views of the scenery outside will cause those around me in the train to look up from their word filled papers and books to the picture filled world where I gaze. To the ever-changing pictures of blue and green. To the mountains where I hope and dream…

I hope that they may take some time to think about the driver of the train and the journey He is taking us on. Sure the destination of the train is important without it there is no point being in the train – but how we get there, how we react to the view of the world outside, how we react to those sitting next to us, what we choose to look at. Thats what fills our heads with pictures.

Or words …

One thought on “Everybody is different – so what is normal?

  1. For someone who thinks in pictures – these are a lot of words! Beautifully put together too!
    Are people two dimensional?

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