Sitting in an upscale Dallas hotel (September, 2011), I am thinking on—first, how lucky I am to be sitting here with nothing to do and no present responsibilities—thanks to my fiancé who has afforded me this opportunity to be care free as we approach our coming nuptials this weekend. Second—I am thinking about the current economic woes that have overtaken our American economy as well as the World’s economy. My chosen profession—the nature of my profession and the fact that I am self-employed with a service that can’t be outsourced [well, that is a relative statement since the trade is often “outsourced domestically” to illegal day laborers…but that is a topic for another post] —gives me the opportunity to “think” on things while performing on-the-job tasks; consequently, my thoughts today are rooted in an ongoing internal dialog/conversation I have been having with myself for several months and/or actually for several years. I have been interested in the American Presidency, American history, WWII, the 1920’s, the Great Depression—most things historical—most of my adult life; consequently, I read on these topics regularly—that is, when I read, which is more and more often as I get older. I am at a pace now of completing 10-12 books a year—which compared to my history as a boy and young adult—is unimaginable. Anyway, my attempt, through reading and pondering the subject matter (and in life in general), is (as the title of my blog notes) to gain awareness, insight and understanding about the topics at hand as well as its position in the broader context within the “course of human events”.
Reading history, for me, is about better understanding the context in which this “play” we call our individual lives and our lives collectively reside; I find myself wanting to know in greater detail…how did we get here…how did we get to this point? When I read about something new and find a connection between things I hadn’t know were linked before, I naturally think on it and then wonder–well, what happened to get us to that point? So I pursue new connections. The current economic and political environment around the world and at home is certainly a unique time in human history; we are all dumbfounded be the “uncertainty” that surrounds our immediate futures. We seem to think though that this is a new phenomenon—uncertainty. As humans, we loath uncertainty; thus, we engineer our world, our environments, to make them predictable and useful, for our comfort and ease of mind—all within the context of utility of course. Economically, we all want things to be positive and predictable—as if what comes up doesn’t have to come down…and if it does come down, we ask that it returns to the middle—and never drops to the bottom. We ask for positive outcomes always; if we cannot have positive outcomes, then we want “normal” outcomes—but never negative outcomes. This is understandable; in my own life, I enjoyed the good times I’ve experienced. In fact, I wanted them stay around forever—which naturally they could not. When I began to see the writing on the wall, I wanted things to at-the-least return to normal—average—the mean—not slip down below average to have me suffer in a trough of “really bad times” economically and/or personally. And naturally, through experiencing the cycle, I learned that you cannot have the rise without the lows that eventually follow; in fact, it was the lows where I learned the most. It is the lows that corrected everything—helping me to realize that balance is necessary and that in spite of our overriding human efforts to keep everything at or above the “normal” line, we have to have the troughs in order to have a median and the highs. Balance is elemental. I have learned this personally from my own experiences; I don’t know if when others experience hard times and they make it through, back to the good side of thing–when they make it through do then learn from the experience as well? I assume so; I don’t think I am that special in my own abilities and analysis of things. I presume we all have the ability to gain from struggle–and hopefully take the time to do so–to know after-the-fact that the struggle makes you stronger (assuming you actually make it through the struggle). But assuming we will make it through the struggle–because of our experience, we will know, in the future that I (we) have the resources and resolve to make it through future tough times.
As individuals, to me, we tend to store that knowledge, that certainty within our memory banks and proceed into life pushing against turmoil to find prosperity on the other side. As individuals we seem to think things will get better…why? Well, because with age and experience you can say to yourself, “I have been through hard times before and I know I can do it again”. But as a Nation, I see that we don’t necessarily “remember” our history, primarily because we don’t study “our history” and thus we know nothing about it–our struggles and accomplishments. Consequently we have no point of reference on which to fall back on. The younger generations have no clue about the resolve of our people; more broadly spoken, we need to become collectively aware of the resolve of PEOPLES–humanity–and how people everywhere have made overcoming hardship and challenges in the realm of uncertainty simply a part of being human…being ALIVE. It brings to mind a line from the movie “The Princes Bride”, in which the main character says profoundly, “LIFE IS PAIN.” Although I understand how that worked well in the context of the movie, I differ with the assertion wholly because to me overcoming pain–making it through the struggle–now THAT’s life.