little old normal me

“The important thing is to go below the clichés to touch the texture of your experience. Your mind is hungry to be alive. You give us that gift by laying down your true mind on the page. We read it and you open up fields of our own imagination.”

Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away

Sometimes I need Natalie Goldberg to write. I always need coffee. I  always need to shower first.  I often need music. But only in tricky times do I call on the writing goddess that is Natalie Goldberg to help get me started. And she always delivers. The quote above this Pegasus thing (initially chosen for its title but made the cut because I actually started to like it) is in response to a student of her’s who worried that she couldn’t write a memoir because her life was too “normal.” In a way only she can do, Goldberg assured this student and then readers of her book that all  true experiences have worth. This passage, entitled “Ordinary”, really spoke to me today.

I’m in the process of reorganizing this here blog and my web presence in general and naturally when projects which require sensibility and objectivity arise, I like to slip into something less comfortable like my old buddy self-doubt. Like the student in the chapter, I’ve been worried about being normal. Now I’m secure enough to know my multiple diseases and inherent sparkly self are enough to keep me out of permanent beige town. But what if I’m too quirky that it becomes annoying? Or what if I run out of clever things to say (perish the thought!). What if my life has stopped being crazy and I have nothing left to write about? Goldberg answered all of that and essentially told me to “shut up and keep going.”

And if you think about it-normal is an adventure for people like me. After decades of self-created drama, the challenge today lies in living the truth. Things like calling people back, following through on plans, paying bills are out of the norm for me. In addition to honoring my day-to-day experiences, I need to embrace “normal” life and go against my programming to be, dare I say it, happy! Talk about drama and the ultimate fish out of water story! I owe it to myself to keep going because this normal adventure is really interesting.

So if you just paid your phone bill or cleaned your house or showed up to work on time today, congratulations! If you are used to living in calamity and uncertainty and today your life is pretty quiet, I salute you! If you can now be counted on and trusted, way to go! You are deliciously, unabashedly normal. And I think that’s pretty spectacular.

5 thoughts on “little old normal me

  1. Every life is important and every story is even more important because it says to readers that we were here and that we matter. Coming into sobriety, life will not entirely be a cakewalk – 10 years in and I can honestly tell you that. Every story that you tell shows your reader that you are human, but in the same vein we are spirits having a human existence.

    You must keep writing as your voice will become polished the more you use it. Life is circular and certain stories come up over and over again. And in sobriety we get to look at those stories from different points of view each time, so the telling and retelling changes which makes our writing ever more expressive.

    What do you do when you re-enter the normal world after a drinking career like yours? That can seem daunting at first, but the more you write I get to know you and I listen attentively to your words because you are in the process of “becoming” and that is exciting.

    So when you have a page in front of you, even if it is blank and you have nothing to give, look at the page and writes what ever comes to your mind and let it go onto the page. I encourage you to keep writing.

    We are here and we matter and I think your other readers would agree.


    • Jeremy! Thanks for that. Yeah at 3 and a half years of sobriety and 2 and half of writing professionally, I’m still growing up. I am constantly reminded how little I still know and how much more I have to learn. And aren’t I lucky? Seriously! The other options (still high, still drunk or dead) aren’t so fabulous. Anyway, thanks for the kind words and for reading! xo- Sean

  2. Just remember it’s your version of normal. Trying to be something I’m not is what got me into trouble. If I allow myself to buy an action figure once in a while I find I can cope with “normal” just fine because I have a secret at home. Just a secret stash of action figures instead of empty bottles.

    • You’re right about that. I should clarify. By “normal” I mean a healthy, non-hot mess version of the perfectly imperfect person I am now. Trying to be normal got me in trouble too. My guilty pleasures these days are baking and watching reality shows.

  3. For me it’s embracing the reality that there is no normal…we are just big goofballs trying to navigate existence. Some people just have an ability to express what we are going through…you have a way of putting the craziness of our minds into words that help us to understand it all. It’s a gift. And that’s my favorite part of sobriety…actually embracing my gifts. Looking forward to seeing how you re-organize things. I have been a little melancholy lately…not in a bad or good place…just breathing. I am finding that is when I struggle the most to write. My voice seems to want a good or bad mood to go with it. Hey, I think I just thought of something to write about. LOL.

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