Finding Normal in the Strange


how advanced are we

Our news headlines are from the wrong era.  Girls are being kidnapped for trying to get an education.  We can’t, or won’t, find a plane.  A whole plane.  Russia’s moving in on Eastern Europe and China’s pushing down on Vietnam.  What strange time warp are we in?  Surely our technology, our global politics and our human rights have evolved beyond all this.  I begin to wonder just how (un)advanced we actually are.

I travel seeking the unusual.  I look for what is different from my norm; different people, different cultures, different landscapes and languages.  I travel with the idea that my life is the status quo for human existence and the different I encounter is the strange.

Then Travel shakes its head at me.  When will I finally learn that my world is not the world?

My cushy life that started in an accommodating first world country, where education is not just available but a legal obligation and where we won’t convert to metric, is not the usual I once suspected.

When I first began to travel I saw each new place I visited as a unique experience, isolated from any other by the sheer bombardment of different it presented.  Now I’m starting to recognize patterns.  The way more people live than don’t is not the way I’m used to.  Chopsticks are more common than forks and ox and horse are not outdated methods of transportation. Siestas are economical, not lazy.  Education is a privilege, not a right.  Most people are poor.  But if most people are poor than surely that’s no longer poor.  Poor, therefore, becomes middle class and my middle class becomes rich. I never thought I was rich before.  According to what happens more than what doesn’t I am too old to not be married and in the worldwide 85th percentile for weight.  Fat, old hag.  I should count my wealth in children, sometimes cows, not paper notes and stocks.  I should have less education, less hair highlights, less free time and more religion.  I should not fly in planes so often.  I am the odd one out.

In my lucky world we may be too far advanced to bicker about whether to educate girls or weigh the merits of the Eastern Bloc.  But my world is not actually our world.  We are not so advanced as you – yes you with the time and skill to read a blog in the middle of your day – might think.  While a few of us are interneting, most of the world is still planting rice, paying labola, covering up women and losing planes.

It’s my normal that’s the strange.



2 responses to “Finding Normal in the Strange”

  1. Kyle says :

    Thanks for the reality check. Easy to get spoiled when you’re living the life but, as you say, our reality, our “normal”, is pretty narrow. It’s a big world out there–and who only knows how many other worlds are out there in infinite space. Humbling, isn’t it?

    • beyonddisneytravel says :

      Is sure is – humbling is a great word (wish I’d thought to use it in the post!). Thanks, Kyle.

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