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10/14/10

The Economy and Me

Conquering Fear of the Future...


Keep a clear head to fend off a sense of pending doom.

Since I live in a state that has been hard hit by the real estate collapse and the evolving mortgage-foreclosure disaster, in the epicenter of the economic damage of the resulting financial crisis, my perspective tends to get skewed on the larger US and world economy. To be sure the outlook is not very good in most places but Arizona, along with neighbors California and Nevada, has been particularly devastated and life often feels unstable with each bit of news about real estate and foreclosures making it seem even rockier. The news can be in the form of a headline, about someone we know, friends, family, workmates, a neighbor, friend of a friend or overheard in public. The feeling can rise suddenly, is unanticipated, unsettling and manifests itself in unexpected ways.

Even those of us that in spite of economic damage due to unemployment and other financial problems but have ourselves, our family and friends, managed to remain fairly intact and stable, relatively unscathed, are beset by unnerving raw thoughts and emotions. We wonder what is the next shoe to drop and even though we have made it through so far and have never been involved in too much debt, real estate transactions gone awry and the like, are concerned we will be hit by flying objects out of our control.

Most people here understand that this entire decade will be spent unwinding and reconfiguring the aftermath of Arizona's economy that collapsed due to an overblown building boom, that resulted in unrealistic real estate prices and far too much reliance on construction. This can cause moments of weariness at looking at the long road ahead or a sense of pending doom.

Truthfully, selfishly I suppose, I'm not worried much about what happens next for me. I'm a survivor and usually manage to make the best of whatever situation I end up in for the duration. My concern is more for what happens to society and institutions around me and how what happens to them will affect our daily lives. I worry about a breakdown in society around me that makes ordinary activity difficult. Since worrying never solved anything and the future can't be predicted, this is a futile waste of brain power. Good old therapeutic self-talk seems to work. These "memos to self" work for me:

Everything changes and in the long term it's usually for the better. A positive point of view and keeping perspective generally makes whatever happens turn out to be a good thing. 


Remind myself that just as surely as a bad thought or feeling arrived unannounced, it can be replaced in a flash with another, better thought or feeling.


This is a great opportunity to embrace my inner bohemian. If the future is up in the air, then conventional rules and practices are irrelevant. 


If nothing is the same anymore, then the future brings the chance to live life in new, unconventional ways. What is there to lose if the old way is gone? 


Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There is an element of truth in what you expect is what you get, so it's a good idea to expect the best.