What is normal? Who defines it? How do you measure it? Most importantly, how do you know when it has changed?
I've been reading some books lately that talk about how our brain chemistry affects our perception of what is reality, in particular, how the different brain hormones of men and women shape how they perceive things. A man and a woman could be watching the same scene, but with vastly different perceptions of what is happening. And, each one would define his or her perception as the normal one. So how do you know who is right?
Well in a sense, they're both right. Our views of what is normal are inherently skewed by our own experiences and perceptions, and sometimes, depending on circumstance, can be changed for a long time. I've found this happening to me. After nearly two and a half years of living the Army life with my husband, ideas and and occurrences that seemed strange at first are now the norm, and I sometimes forget that the rest of my friends and family don't experience them, too.
There's the way I've become almost expert at confusing people with acronyms that I'd never heard of three years ago. And, my ability to calmly read a book during weapons firings that got so loud they shook the windows (detailed in my previous post about the grenade launcher.) When I ask my husband what he did that day at work, he rarely has to stop and explain the jargon to me anymore. I've gotten used to shopping at a PX instead of a Wal-mart, and a commissary instead of a grocery store. And I can read a soldier's rank with a quick glance at his or her uniform.
So which version of my reality is the normal one? The one where I existed far removed from the military and would have laughed if you told me I'd one day live on an Army base? Or the version where I'm happily married, but with a few unexpected twists and turns (and acronyms) in the road? I'm not really sure sometimes. Having lived for so long in my non-military reality, I can see both points of view. The days when I marveled at every Humvee that drove down the road are long since past, but every once in a while, a little voice in my head still says, "Wow! How about that tank that just drove by?" I hope that voice never stops talking.
Photo credit: flickr.com, Nevada Tumbleweed