I have been trying to figure out normal people for most of my life. I have tried to find a basic statement to make sense of my fellow man, much like Einstein’s theory of relativity or the equation Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration. The only real conclusion I have come to can be summed by Tommy Lee Jones in the first Men In Black movie when he said, “The individual is smart, but people as a group are stupid, panicky animals.” Ever since I was a young child I have found taking my fellow humans one on one much easier and enriching than dealing with crowds, groups, or cliques. I have always gotten along with most of my school mates and elders when working with them one on one. Not so much when they were in large groups. People have always seemed more civil and easy going if I could talk to them one on one or even in small groups. Sadly we seldom ever get to talk with our neighbors, extended family members, coworkers much on a one to one basis. There are times I’ve had more in depth conversations with people from different nations over Facebook than with people in my apartment complex. I like the digitized friends I have in some of my interests pages groups on Facebook more than I do my own neighbors. But I didn’t have much say in who my neighbors were.
Some of my happiest memories from junior high and early high school came from the weekend ‘lock in’ parties that my school and church participated in. We’d have movies, snacks, board games, card games, and just stay up all night and chat with the fellow school mates. I used to get into those extremely in depth conversations with my classmates I may have not had much to do with on a regular basis during the course of a school week. I would talk with people I thought I had nothing in common with until my voice was raspy and my throat hurt. Those times made me realize that everyone else has their own problems, fears, and hangups. We as students, or the community as a whole, may stick us in groups like jocks, nerds, cowboys, preppies, party animals, thugs, basket cases, beauty queens, conservatives, liberals, artists, rich, poor, etc. All the window dressing and nonsense aside, people actually have far more in common with each other than we are lead to believe by our culture and leaders. One guy at these lock ins told me that he was under constant pressure from his parents to be a great athlete because his father was a great athlete years before. Another kid told me that even though she came from a devoutly religious family she had her skepticisms and doubts. A third kid told me even though he came from a wealthy farming family he had little interest in farming once he was done with high school but would probably do so to please his parents and grandparents. One kid told me he was envious of how smart I was and I told him I was envious of how popular and handsome he was. Who would have ever guessed? Another kid I was envious of because he got excellent grades, was handsome, and wasn’t lacking in confidence by any measure (not that I could tell at least) that he was envious of me because of my smarts, my not being afraid to take unpopular stands, and because of my friendship with my female best friend. One way he put it went something like, “Neither of you has to worry about ever finding dates for the weekend. You can always ask each other.” Another guy told me about my female best friend, “You two go together so well you get along better than most married couples.” I may not have had a lack of dates in high school, but they were usually with the same girl and always casual. I had far more dates in high school than college, but most my dates even in high school came before my mental illness took full effect. But too much stress is placed of finding love and trying to get laid, especially in high school. I miss those lock ins and opportunities to get to know my classmates on a less structured and formal basis. It’s about the only thing I miss about junior high, but I definitely would love opportunities to get to know my neighbors better. Perhaps we in the modern world suffer from too much structure and formality. Maybe that is why we are more irritable and short tempered than we should be.