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8/12/10

POTS: Tip and Ring, Grounded

The Summer of my Disconnect...

In analog copper telephony ("Plain Old Telephone Service") two wires run together, one is the positive ground side (ring) and the other side is the negative battery side (tip), with a switching machine acting as the brain. Basically two wires connect and people talk.

Throughout this economic crisis, signaled to me in 2007, I've been able to stay grounded, keeping battery going and charged and maintaining a positive connection in my brain. There have been difficult times, periods when I wondered how I was going to continue to personally financially keep my head above water, treading water if necessary. My main focus was at a minimum break even, increase income if possible, reduce and not fall behind in expenses and continue to avoid all debt. So far, so good.

I'm not sure exactly when a different way of thinking started evolving within me but it was sometime around the Fourth of July. Then suddenly I felt the heaviness of the trouble our country was in economically. It was no longer a matter of my knowledge of economics, southward Leading Economic Indicators, Stock Market bubble and other factors that in my brain were things that did not add up to a sustainable recovery. Up until then a lot of intellectual discourse in my head was on how to best move forward personally with that knowledge and stay relatively financially intact with a positive outlook.

No...this was deep in heart and soul. I suddenly felt what my grandparents had felt, during the Great Depression, at approximately the same age as I am now. It explained them perfectly to me. With clarity I now understood why my parents, aunts and uncles, who grew up as kids and adolescents in that era, held the values they did about debt, savings, managing money and resources.

It was a very hefty oppressive feeling that I'm still reconciling. Somehow, simultaneously I had disconnected, tip and ring and had no battery, but my brain wasn't switching anything off. Neuron synapses weren't signalling and if they were, weakly and the distance between axon and dendrite was so great it grounded them out, without connection. There was hum on the line but at the same time, the network was still operating on another level that was different.

This has caused me to reevaluate how to proceed in what looks like a 5, 10 and 15 year economic recovery cycle. Experienced, educated professional economists, as well as people directly involved in some way in the economy that I know, all privately tell me the same thing. We're in for a long haul of piecing things back together, no matter the tack taken to repair the damage, this will still take time. Fortunately the financial piece for me personally is somewhat settled in my mind, primarily I'm as prepared as I can be, considering the situation.

Now the work for me on all levels, is realizing the effects on people and society, accepting that there will be many difficulties, while doing what I can and preserving my own state of mind. When I was young I lived for an extended period in third world places with a small middle class and large disparity between wealthy and poor people. I'm not suggesting America is going to become third world but the conditions will be present in some areas. Due to my experience, I know there is an entire psychology that comes with that, one that I think the majority of Americans are ill-prepared for.

Keeping myself physically healthy and my mind sharp is paramount to maintain to me for future shock. I am of no use to others if I am not in shape, physically and mentally. It is for that reason I disconnected from the social web for the most part, limit my quota of media and news, avoid most comment sections on the internet (they've become largely peanut galleries). Now I tend reduce my time on the web to use it as a resource and for carefully chosen entertainment. I determined that the axiom "the internet has ruined my attention span" is certainly true for me and am making a point to read books. Paper ones, not e-books, long ones. 

It's been engaging. Reading for extended periods is tougher than it used to be for me. I'm also re-discovering and meeting people who also understand current events and enjoy conversation. I'm relearning when to listen, really hear and speak in full sentences articulately. I'm more active and having more fun. At the same time I'm learning I need to disengage from some activities and people that aren't moving forward because that isn't much fun, it's counter-productive.

Above all else, for me it is about raising the bar to keep yourself level-headed and staying positive in an extremely challenging, yet at the same time exciting, era.