Thinking Out Loud


A new decade in a new economic, social and geopolitical world.

The year 2010 turned a page into a new chapter of my life in momentous ways that I did not expect but could not have hoped for a better outcome. Life is much better now. I clearly remember New Year's Eve and Day 2010 because it was a long and difficult weekend with a pending decision weighing heavily on my mind. On Monday, January 4th, I went into work for a few hours and then confirmed my instincts by resigning from my job. It was the right choice but difficult in these economic times and seemingly unwise from a personal financial standpoint. I had to do it to be free to move on in a new year, the last in a Biblically epic long decade in my life, that began in 2000 when my life was radically altered also by a work decision, one I did not choose. Like hundreds of thousands of others I was "separated" from the company I worked for almost 30 years.

The Economic Crisis started early for me, in hindsight I am very glad, it gave me a long running head start on what was to follow in this country and is not over yet.

This past year has been extremes of highs and lows, ups and downs and everything in between. At times I was in complete control of my situation and in others I was not. In the dead heat of summer I was struck by a virus that kept me bed-ridden for two weeks and during that same month I serendipitously found a job that suits me perfectly. It was a classic time that epitomized the characteristics of the entire year, simultaneously flowing triumph and disaster.

In the end it has been a richly rewarding and fulfilling year furnishing me with optimism, positive thinking and confidence. Regardless of what 2011 and the next decade brings I have at last returned to the summer roots of my inner self and in harmony with my true nature, after a decade of a mostly estranged winter. I say that with an assurance, that I did not have but was yearning for, this time last year. I knew then where I had been for a decade and did not want to continue but rather move on to another journey and I can say that I have.

One of the best decisions I made at the end of 2009 was to set a goal to begin posting to this website blog daily and start creating and uploading videos on YouTube again. It was part of documenting my life that served as a release valve, a steadying constant, as well as a confidence builder and confirming my ability to be original and self-reliant. Through expressing myself it reminded me I am a unique individual in my own right.

Another good determination made this past spring was to get off most of the social web, especially Twitter and Facebook. I never cared for Facebook and was reluctantly coaxed into it and Twitter became a time-killer, full of unwashed masses bubbling out a constant stream of babbling junk. That is not a judgment on other people who choose to be on those sites, those sites just weren't right for me at the time or even now. That choice, by it's very nature, also meant limiting my interaction online but I've found the remaining interaction to be of better quality.

The time I had spent online and with other things I chose to stop doing was spent reading good books in a self-designed "Great Books" list. What a wonderful determination that has turned out to be. My mind has not only been enriched but it has had an unexpected but welcome calming of my soul.

"He not busy being born is busy dying"

How very fortuitous it has turned out to be that on that day, Friday the 13th in October 2000, I was surplussed and laid off from the company I had worked for since high school, through my college degrees and experienced my thirties and forties. My involuntary "separation" (their term) actually was not accompanied with anxiety but rather rejoicing at being freed from the institutional madness of the only place I had really ever worked. That does not mean there was not angst of learning as I traversed down the road in the decade ahead. It prepared me in too many ways to enumerate to cope with the new world of 21st century economic, social and geopolitical circumstances.

Although this year and this decade has ended with a finality specific to me, it does not mean an end to always learning and facing new challenges moving forward. Now I look ahead to them with a renewed freedom I once had and have revived. It is certain that the Great Disruption that became obvious to the world in mid-2007 will continue and perpetuate the economic distress that challenges us all and disturbs other social institutions. We live in an exciting time as our universe is reborn anew once again, following in the footprints of world history. That does not bother me since I know that as an individual I have the determination, will and ability to overthrow adversity. Also I have a perception of others difficulties and an ability to understand what some may need help in learning to cope for themselves.

If there is anything I am able to impart to others, it is that we all have something within us that allows us to rise above and overcome. My hope is that in my own small way I can do that.

"He not being busy born is busy dying" quote from "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" [Dylan]


  1. I could write all night about what you say here, but all it boils down to is one sentence you wrote: "Life is much better now."

    Despite everything that seems to be awful and almost insurmountable, that is the feeling I, too, have about things going into 2011. The 2000-2010 decade-plus-one was exactly like you said: triumph and disaster flowing in the same stream. It's hard to juxtapose it accurately, but you know what I mean. And I think you're right about having the running start; I used to think everybody was in the same boat but that idea left me a long time ago. It used to be that when someone said to me, "I don't know how you do it", it felt like condescension. I don't expect to feel that way about it anymore.

    I think 2011 will be tough for a lot of people. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had; once you are down to rolling up the nickels because you know the dimes are gone, economic crises kinda lose their scariness.

    I'm going to read and write and make music and stare at trees and work and pay the bills, not in any particular order. I think it will be a good 2011. I look forward to it.

    That's all I have, sir, except to say Happy New Year!

    (...and seriously, if you knew how many times that Dylan line has gone through my mind in the last few months, it'd shock you.)

    Awesome post, JR.

  2. One of the best comments ever Mike. Within it you also summed it all up with "I don't expect to feel that way anymore."

    I also think 2011 will be tough for a lot of people and that will be the real defining mark of the year. I don't mean just tough as in economically but psychologically, we will be divided up by people who can cope and the scariness has long gone and those who will never get out of panicky, scary, victim mode. We can't help that but just do out best to help others who are willing to learn how to help themselves. The rest will be stuck and that's out of our control.

    I'm going to read, take a class to write better and retake one on public speaking, learning e-publishing and soak in the desert around me, also in no particular order.

    A LOT of Dylan stuff has gone through my mind lately (and Springsteen also) but like you, that line in particular.

  3. Oh and Happy New Year to you Mike also! Thanks for all the comments this past year, you don't know what a support that's been.