Saturday, 15 September 2007

Normal lunacy

I don't like this week's hotel and I'm not sure why. Well, that's not true, I can point to a hundred little things all of which add up to why: the hoards of tourists blocking the lobby (no I'm not a tourist anymore) the lack of work surface space around the sink, power to the room involving putting the room card in a slot by the door, the list goes on. And on.

The thing is that two months ago I would have been quite happy with this hotel. For the price in Central London it's amazing. At least it is if you don't know that for £20 more how much better you could get.

I know the difference is due to having lived in four different hotels in the past six weeks. I'm used to a certain level of hotel now, at least during the week. I hope I still am my normal self on weekends, actually paying attention to the price and reacting to it, rather than the type of hotel I'm used to.

However it's got me thinking about the norm. This is probably particularly relevant to me right now since I'm right in the middle of not being in my norm. Slap bang in the middle. Last weekend was my parent's Ruby anniversary in Edinburgh, next weekend is Mike's Stag do. Which basically means if I'm really lucky in three weeks I'll be lucky if I spend four nights in the flat, so really my chances of living to my norm is slim.

The norm. What we expect of life. I've had numerous conversations with friends over the years about how you never do the toursity things in the place you live in until someone visits. I remember deliberately doing Clifford's Tower in York because I knew if I didn't do it then I never would. I never did do York Minster's Nave or Tower.

The norm. The weird thing is we always aspire to not do the norm. We're constantly seeking something bigger and better. A new event or experience that we can enjoy. The idea of Go-karting, or paint-balling, mountain-boarding or bungee jumping. A Tango class. Anything that's new, different and exciting. Chasing the high.

Yet the norm is what we do every day. It's what gets us through the day. The week, the month, the year. If a change is as good as a break, then surely the norm is a bad thing?

Well no obviously not, otherwise we wouldn't do it It's comfortable, relaxing. Yet I wonder about the changes. We start conversations with "What's new?". The interesting stories are about differences. New relationships, new jobs, new activities, holidays, babies and the like.

But that's no way to live a life, something new every day. There'd be no fixed point, nothing to revolve around. In short it's the mix of ordinary and extraordinary that drives us.

I've been vaguely flipping into and out of Channel 4's Dumped for instance. If you're not aware of it, it's a reality TV show about a group of people living on a landfill for a few weeks. If they last then they share in a prize fund. I wonder how many of them are staying only because they know they can get back to their norm soon. I wonder what they'd do if they had to live there long term.

One of the guys was complaining because he didn't feel like he was learning anything. It was the same day that the group had built a toilet from junk. He felt like he hadn't learnt a thing. It was mind-boggling. I was sat there thinking about my waste, trying to work out if there was any way I could turn it to my advantage (probably, if I could be bothered) and he was complaining because he hadn't learnt anything from building a toilet.

The norm. I guess we take it for granted and hate it when we have to break from it. We yearn for the safety and security of the everyday, and wish for the chance to escape it.

So maybe I should come back to this hotel, learn to see it for what it is and appreciate that. Push myself out of my current norm to a new level of adversity (ok it's not adversity, more tension). Give myself a little shake to see what comes loose.

Or maybe I should go somewhere I want to be. Return to my norm and pretend I know better. We'll see.

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