Monday, November 19, 2007

Question

In a recent edition of the Guardian Book Club podcast with Jeanette Winterson, the author tells a story from her early life. On revealing that she had fallen in love with another girl Winterson was issued an ultimatum by her mother: stay and be straight or leave the house. She chose the latter, and as she walked out of the house her mother called her back. Winterson, thinking that perhaps her mother had changed her mind turned around only to be asked

"Why be happy when you can be normal?"

The interviewer John Mullan and the audience laughed spontaneously, and so did I. But later on when I was thinking over it, I realised that it's a question we are all asked and often ask ourselves. Not overtly. Not aloud. But quietly. And persistently. It's the raised eyebrow when we tell people our choices. It's that moments hesitation before we take decisions. The tone of disapproval in conversations. Why are you doing this when you could do that and be safer?

2 comments:

Falstaff said...

I think the question is more the other way round: Why be normal when you can be happy?

Actually, make that Why be normal? Normalcy is overrated. It's just another word for mediocrity.

Aarthi said...

You know...you really are on to something here. Am guilty as charged too and none too proud of it.
BUT the very obvious caveat of course is that normalcy and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There are some homes, ones with white picket fences and a dog, that are perfectly happy. Then there are other homes,ones with two daddies and a little boy, that are happy in their own convention-defying, true-to-ones-self kind of way.

Falstaff: Very idealistic. But equating normalcy to mediocrity is a tad simplistic in my opinion.