Thursday, September 18, 2008

Okay, so they broke it...

You know, I've been thinking.

Okay, I didn't start out thinking. I started out with my head in the sand. I started out accusing other people of having their heads in the sand. I started out angry. I started out pointing fingers. I started out scared. I started out despairing.

I said that I hadn't expected to spend the last twenty years of my life in a global economic depression. I schemed to see if I could keep everything we had worked so hard for. I considered plans to protect things I just absolutely could not lose. I tried to imagine myself living on the street after being evicted by a bank - a bank also hanging on for an inch of dignity, and inevitably losing. Ultimately losing.

I blamed it on economic greed. I blamed it on financial laziness. I blamed it on Republicans. I blamed it on Democrats for not having nads.

I blamed it on myself for not being prepared; for not being prescient enough to know I should have amassed two tons of gold these past twenty-five years.

And then I spent some time thinking. And I'm still thinking. I'm still reacting, but I'm working really hard at locating that thoughtful space.

And I have decided something that I think is really important.

When Bonnie and Brandy and I were in Italy five years ago, we were robbed of almost everything we had with us on our last day there. This reality hit us very suddenly. We heard our car alarm sound as we walked the path beside an ocean-side castle to the parking lot where we had carelessly abandoned most of our traveling belongings just an hour earlier. Moments later we saw the shattered glass that threatened profoundly to equate to a shattered vacation and shattered lives if we gave it that space to grow. Brandy immediately crashed into tears. My heart broke into twelve thousand pieces as I realized that I had failed to protect her, and I nearly lost my will to do anything but recriminate my own ill begotten decisions.

To my amazement to this day, I found something very deep inside myself, and called my daughter and wife to action. I announced (while shouting down the daemon that wanted me to despair and take all and any blame) that we needed to pull together NOW. I told Brandy that I knew how awful this was, but that I needed her strength now. We all needed each others' strength.

The long and the short of this is that we did manage to get our shit together. Within a matter of hours we had passports, other identification, new credit cards, cash, plane tickets, and our dignity wrapped around us again. We had managed, in a few short hours, to bring ourselves from a potentially ruined vacation, without a penny to our erstwhile unsubstantiated names, back to being people, and to being a family, and and to being revelers in life, again. We weren't without our scars, but we weren't victims either. We had our lives back.

This time things are going to be a bit harder. The assaults on our financial securities and on our dignity are much greater. And this time there are many many more lives than just those of three lonely travelers at stake. But this is where I got to thinking today: the principals are really the same.

Just as the three of us pulled together, deciding in the midst of our fear and despair that we couldn't afford to wallow in those emotions (no matter how justified), we as a society need to find the same strength together. This isn't going to be easy. Some are going to fall apart. Some people aren't going to be able to find any inner strength. I've never blamed Brandy for her reaction to our situation by bursting into tears. I've tried not to blame myself too much for letting it all happen or for finally having a meltdown in the Atlanta Airport on the way home the next day. We pulled together then; both immediately, and subsequently; and I know human nature has that capability. We have it in spades.

And so I am committing myself to making it though this very uncertain economic future with dignity and pride. And more importantly, I am committing myself to helping others through it as well.

Bonnie, Brandy and I all learned something about our resilience on that Thursday afternoon in Italy. And we each integrated those experiences into the overall fabric of our lives, and are better people for it. Our country is going to be better for this. We will be.


Beth said...

very well written.

the biggest lesson i have learned over the years is a very simple one and one that many people don't understand or know how to tap into and that is to 'stay in the moment' - because the present moment is all you really have. you can't change the past and you don't know what the future is - all you have is NOW so I try really hard to stay focused on that and not be to distressed over what may or may not happen. That's where I get my strength.

Yar said...

Thank you. I understand the concept of living in the now. It is profoundly simple. However, I'm not particularly good at implementing this axiom. I have a mind that continually re-processes the past and supposes the future. My mind is like people who just can't keep from touching everything the pass on the shelves at the store. The fondle this and turn over that and maybe sniff the object in their hands before setting it down again a moment or two later. Then they pick up, or squeeze or merely touch the next object that catches their eye.

My mind is like that. I just can't leave things alone. So it's very difficult to merely live in the now for me. It makes a lot of sense to do so. That is, unless you are a torture victim.

Beth said...

Believe me I know. I did the same thing. Constantly rehashing things in my head over and over and over. That is hell, you know. That's where most of us stay trapped....I rehhased everything in my head over and over and over. Thought I was such an elevated thinker. So insightful. Actually what I finally recognized only recently - I was trapped in that. I learned that I was NOT that voice in my head. That tape that plays over and over and over. I was wired exactly the same way you are - still am actually.