Escaping “normal”

We are coming up on our 2 year “nomadiversary” as we’ve heard others call it. Today after we finished some school work we went out and found a beach to play at and I thought about this thing called “life” and my children and our journey. I couldn’t help but look at the large southern style houses as we drove by them and think about this country, our society and what the world considers “normal” and as I thought about these things I thought about my fifth child, my third son who struggles with many things.

You see this child, I was told by our pediatrician when he was litle, that this child was “average”. In our home full of well above-average children, he’s what I was told was “normal”. Yet to me there is nothing normal about this child. Everything is a struggle for him unless, of course, it’s some physical activity. He is the only one of my boys who could hit a ball or play any kind of sport at an early age. I had the one son who is brilliant, was honestly reading the encyclopedia by age 4 but when he was in tball he just stood there looking clueless. But not the little brother. Little brother could hit the ball, throw a hot wheels car across a room and nail his sister right between the eyes every time. This kid has a talent for sports sadly in a family that has no desire for them.

If this poor kid is normal then I’d say our system considering him normal might be a problem. And this is where I chose to ditch suburbia and anything “normal” in life and choose a diferent path.

As I drove by large houses, one with it’s own private tennis court, their large porches, all overlooking the ocean I thought about how we used to be just like them. We started out working, trying to fit in, buying new cars, having to get a bigger house to hold all our stuff, always striving to be the best, to do the best, to get the next promotion so we could get more money to move up the ladder so we could spend more money to get more stuff so we would need to buy a bigger house to hold all that stuff.

And at some point I realized this type of life was LUDICROUS and today I reflected on that as I thought about my challenging child.

If we had prescribed to the “norm” then my son would have been in public school and they would have medicated him to make him sit still. He would have been put in special education classes to help him reach his full potential so that he could become just like everyone else.

You see I think our society is built around a principle that is dangerous. I think that very few people in the world every truly reach that “American dream” where you become rich and live a Cinderella life. I think instead we sell that dream to people telling them that they can be anything, they can be rich, they can have it all if they just work hard. But the reality cannot. I believe our public school system is designed to teach children to sit still in a small space all day doing what they are told and not questioning anyone who tells them to do it. If you dare question why you are having to waste time diagramming sentences and ask how that ever would be applied in life you are labeled a trouble maker and everything is done to put you back into that small space and force you to comply with those in authority over you.

Although it all sounds well and good that we need to all become good citizens, productive members of society, etc. What actually happens is we train our children to become cubicle dwellers or factory workers. We give them a small space and tell them what to do and we give them just enough money to make them stay there and keep working so that some big fat cats way way up the ladder make billions of dollars off the combined efforts of their thousands or millions of employees. They dangle the carrot that you can work hard and get ahead but in reality the truth is you cannot. You are limited in how far you will ever go working for someone else.

Then we add to that all of the television programming that brainwashes the masses into believing they need to have a new car every few years and they need this toothpaste and that type of deodorant and this shampoo and all these gadgets and gizmos to make their life better and they need a bigger house to hold it all and doesn’t little Johnny need to play in every sport so he can be well rounded.

So you end up with all the little people working and trying to get ahead believing the LIE that they will EVER get ahead. With all the racism being thrown around this past election year I think to some degree they are correct that “the man” is keeping them down. But I think they are 100% in error that it is a system designed to keep the “black” person down. The system is designed to keep EVERYONE down and only a handful of people are ever able to break through that limitation and grab the brass ring. And THOSE people that do…they are the one’s who if they weren’t born into money probably bucked the system and made their own way.

The sytem is designed to keep you spending money on more and more things telling you that possessing these things will make you happy and that if you just keep working and keep spending and keep buying and keeping getting more and more and more and moving into a bigger and bigger house that you will be happy and all you do is rack up debt unless you are one of the lucky ones who was able to break out of debt and pay cash for everything but very few make that happen and some think they have but they still have a mortgage. If you look at a mortgage you wind up paying 3 times or more what your house was worth to begin with. If you look at car loans they are equally as bad. Yet we are brainwashed to believe that this is how things must be.

And as I look at my son who turned 12 last year and think about this world we live in I know he would not have survived that “normal” world. He still struggles with his reading. He’s getting better. He finally wants to be able to read but every sentence is still a struggle for him. I refuse to give up on this point. He will learn to read well enough that he can read whatever he needs to read or wants to read when he’s an adult. He is good in math. That is the one thing he has never struggled with and for that I am thankful. However, he’s progressed to the point that without stronger reading skills he cannot move beyond in his math as he needs to be able to read word problems, etc. But I also see a boy who seems to be out of time and place for who he is.

Let me see if I can explain. Seventy years ago my son would have been working on a farm, milking cows, plowing fields, hunting food, skinning animals probably learning to use the hydes for things and butchering the meat for us to eat. This son would have been great with those things. He loves anything outdoors. He’s not squimish about killing an animal for food. He’d probably love to make his own coonskin cap. I suspect he’d be a hard worker out in the field and a great help to his father IF he had been born 70 or more years ago. Yet today in our society, we want boys to behave differently. We want them to be civilized and we don’t want them killing animals, and we don’t let them make their own coonskin caps and if they are overly active we medicate them until they are complacent.

How did we get here and why are we doing this to our children?

There is so much wrong with this society and what they value and the principles we have.

I chose almost 2 years ago to leave that world behind and to seek a different existence for me and my children. I got tired of giving the government $8,800 a year in order to keep a house I owned outright. How did we get from a country of people who dumped tea into the bay because the taxes were unfair to allowing the government to force us to pay $8,800 a year to keep a house we own and if we don’t pay they steal our house from us and sell it at auction and give us pennies on the dollar if anything?

Instead of being concerned with being the smartest or the best or being like everyone else so we fit in, we threw all that out the window. Our life now is more of a journey and it’s not even a well defined journey it’s more of an adventure I guess I should say with us never knowing what a year will hold for us whether we will wind up meeting some amazing Australians at a visitor center of a volcano or hopping a ferry to go to Newfoundland because well when else will we go to Newfoundland or perhaps we will get involved with some people making a movie about living a different kind of a life in an RV and leaving the “normal” world behind.

What I do know is this…in our journey my children have learned more history, more science and more about people in a way that they will never forget. Even my over-achieving, above average children who could memorize and spout facts and could score highly on standardized tests are learning more living this life than our old one. Now when they see or hear or read about some event in history there is a good chance they’ve actually stood in the place where that happened. They can put those past events into the setting of a place they’ve actually walked and their imaginations run wild thinking about all that has occurred in the different places we visit. They’ve stood on glaciers, even eaten lunch on one and when they read in a science book about how glaciers move and flow and how that affects the land, they know exactly what it means because they’ve walked in the paths of glaciers. They read about animals and nature and they’ve seen many of these things actually happening. Life becomes more real, events become more meaningful, places aren’t just stupid names we have to memorize on a test. And the people who can be so different from place to place are all so very much the same, all living, breathing, human beings with dreams and goals and so many places we’ve found where life is very different from the lie we’ve been sold.

Yes, I threw “normal” out the window and we embrace the fact that we are NOT normal and we don’t want to be. If you ask one of my children what “normal” is they might tell you it’s a setting on the washer. Normal is NOT life. Normal is not abundant. Normal is not in our opinion something worth seeking.

And as I was thinking about my son who struggles so much with things that come so easy to others I thought…you know he’s the one that I want with me if this world collapses! This kid is going to be the one who can survive in the wilderness. Perhaps he wasn’t meant to live in this society. Maybe God made him different because his calling in life isn’t going to need him to be able to read the encyclopedia and memorize historical facts. Maybe he wasn’t designed to sit in a cubicle all day. Maybe he wasn’t designed to work in a factory on a production line. Maybe, just maybe, he is exactly as he needs to be for whatever God intends for him to do when he’s older.

Whatever his lot or ours is going to be in this life I know this…my children and I will never settle for “normal”. We’ll leave that to the washing machine!