The economy sucks. By now, everyone (except our elected "leaders," of course) has noticed that the dollar just doesn't go as far as it used to. The price of everything is going up, and going up fast.
This has been on my mind a lot lately, partly since I work for myself and need to be extra cautious about saving and spending, but also because I see the evidence when I do go out: Bars and restaurants are much, much less crowded, and the grocery and gas bills just keep growing and eating away at what I am earning.
I'm struggling to maintain faith in the ability of our country to support people's bliss. I'm doing OK so far, but everyone is cutting back, and while prices are increasing, wages are not. How are you all doing?
I wonder if we're at a point of regression, where our standard of living has reached its peak and will begin to decline as overspending and debt and unsustainable promises either bankrupt our country or make it less free. It's something that keeps me up at night, I'll tell you that.
I worry that artists will not be able to pursue their art in this kind of climate, that business owners will struggle, that parents will toil extra hard to keep their family fed. While this has always been true for the working poor, prosperity is becoming a distant dream for more and more hard-working, honest (and here's the new twist) highly educated Americans.
I guess this post is an attempt at figuring out how to keep going and believing that bliss is attainable when the going gets really tough. Joseph Campbell wrote about his experience in the Depression that it was a time of coming together, of people helping each other, and of a kind of peace with what was. He couldn't change it, so he didn't worry about it. Then again, he had no family or obligations to worry about either.
My hope, I guess, rests in our ability as Americans to reach out to each other and begin to re-strengthen our relationships and reliance on others. In one sense, we've had it so good that we have fooled ourselves into the illusion that we are self-sufficient. Neighbors barely know neighbors, friendships fall away too easily, families have scattered.
Humans are not capable of going it alone, so I guess what I am suggesting is that we take this relative calm before the storm and we begin to reach out to each other, mend the social fabric, and work together. Pursue your bliss, but do not pursue it alone. Tell people what you need, let them know how they can help, but also be willing to assist when they need you, be willing to listen when they speak about their dreams.
It's my belief that strong relationships will be the salvation of life's great desires and hopes in this dark time, so if you need to get your relationships in order, I suggest not wasting a moment.
If, for some reason, my pessimism proves to be unwarranted, there is no harm and only benefit that can come from these bonds. If, however, my dismal premonitions come to pass, there is only harm and no benefit in going it all alone.
Thoughts? I'd love to hear how you plan to pursue bliss and joy in your life when the world isn't exactly cooperating...