These four mantras echo in my head to remind me that things are not the way little childhood me thought they were. It's like having learned a second language -- re-writing my beliefs thoroughly. Funny though: I can do it, have done it. I retreat back there lots, say about 30% of the time. I'm overly shy or withdrawn, mistrustful or stingy, wierded out by the doings of others, overloaded by too much music in the air, able to happily gaze in awe at a tree full of large black crows with chicken bones in their claws and beaks -- in a grocery store parking lot.
They are all acting normal. This has empowered me in public. It was the keystone to learning social stuff for me. There I was in a downtwon Chicago bus station by accident... my train messed up in a snowstorm. And they were acting wierd... They were a whole bunch of downtwon Chicago-ites. Or so I tried to think, so I thought. And the place was fritzing me out. I had to wait there without enough cash to buy a coffee, only a bus ticket in hand, unti l4am guarding my luggage - no quarters to use the lockers even. I called Peter collect after awhile. I couldn't take it. I felt very unsafe. He told me my mantra then, he wrote it then to help in that situation. "They are all acting normal -- for them." They are people. Their needs are familar even if their methods and culture are not. Relax. They are all acting normal.
I calmed down, talked to people. Someone bought me a coffee. :) Turns out, they weren't acting normal! But the mantr helped me learn that. "They" were the poorer end of a 20,000 person conference converging on the same small as I was, a 20,000 Christian missionary weekend retreat and conference. They wre flowing in from around the world -- definitely no normal in that mixture of preaching, faith and world missionary-izing. No! But they wre really nice, and they were flipping out the residents of that Chicago bus terminal as much as they had flipped me out. :) Do-gooders don't often converge on downtown Chicago (even if only enroute to somewhere else). But all told there was something normal there.
I get confused when something I believe is wrong in more than one way at once. I had believed that there can be no such thing as normal -- I had believed that there was only chaos in social behaviour, no patterns. I had believed that each person was truly autonomous and making up his or her own behaviour from the inside out alone just as I was, and that there was no way to really get to the heart of the matter when around new people. I thought that the only reason for stereotyping people and even being predjudice was random and unjustified disliked for superficial similarities. I could not believe that there was a normal. And secondly, I was wrong inthis particular case -- it did lack a normal state. The convergence of these travelling missionaries and the Chicago downtowners was creating abusy stir -- in fact I was right in being very confused by it. for the wrong reasons. The mantra straightened this out all in one blow. It has stayed with me. Normally they are all acting normal (for them). And once in awhile, they aren't. Now I can tell the difference.
Thanks to structure. Normal is a structure, different on the object level in different places. Normal in a Chicago bus terminal is different then normal in a Carnegie Mellon philosophy department. But each place has a human social norm, even if it fluctuates and varies over time. These are the boring periods of the places, the times when the bread and butter events happen predictably, by design often enough. And these present a background to contrast the foreground of the unusual event, the accident, the special occasion.
normal. I have a norm set too. I too am patterned. And I too have a way I act socially. It used to be a projection of my confusion. Now it is a projection into the social spaces of my confidence -- Trust myself. :)
My mantras continued:
more general thoughts on mantras and goals [My tribute to progress.]