It’s 2009. IWe have a new president. But meanwhile, unemployment, crime, foreclosures and bankruptcies (except for the very large companies, such as AIG, Ford, GM and Chrysler) are all going up. In contrast, the stock market, home and retail sales, housing starts, real estate investments, gas prices and, worst of all, emotional spirits, are sinking to new lows.
If you like, you can blame it all on “Bush and Cheney and their private war”. But, you also need to recall that deregulation of financial institutions really started under President Carter and the Fannie Mae and bank problems were seriously neglected by President Clinton. Some of you may claim that John McCain and Sarah Palin would have been able to deal with the financial and political problems the country now faces. Others of you optimistically believe that incoming President Obama will solve all the impossible problems this country now faces. The rest of you are probably thinking about moving to New Zealand.
But, none of these options or opinions will change anything in the immediate future. The only thing you can really change is you. I say that over and over again, to everyone experiencing a marital problem, or thinking about a divorce. However, I believe it applies equally well to the financial difficulties and fears that many of us are experiencing at the present time. I know that you have all heard that it isn’t what happens to you, but how you deal with what happens to you that matters. If that truly is the case, and I believe it is, then the first thing you have to do is consider how you want to change the way you face and resolve the problems you are now confronted with. In my mind’s eye, you first need to realize that we are all in very deep water. Some of us are already in over our heads and may soon find ourselves gasping for breath. Therefore, you have to take step one: accept the truth about the reality you are immersed in and recognize that, if you can’t float, i.e., you don’t have six to twelve months worth of surplus cash around to support you until the waters recede, then, figuratively speaking, you need to immediately take swimming lessons and/or buy a boat and be sure that life preservers come with it. What that means, pragmatically, is that you need to cut back, trim your sails, so to speak, and “hunker down”, as the news reporters said so often in Iraq and during hurricane Ike. In addition and, possibly, more important than anything else, you need to have hope. You must recognize that nothing lasts forever and that, generally, the world and the people in it tend to go about doing their thing and eventually regain their balance.
Think back to 1968, the year when the Vietnam war was escalating, troops were experiencing casualties and deaths, Nixon was the newly elected President of the U.S.A., the Hong Kong flu killed 34,000 people, and the stock market was starting to show the beginning signs of a serious decline that would last for another eight to ten months. Things were generally bad. The economy sucked, people were fearful of losing their jobs, politically, there was a lot of question regarding our new President and spirits were low.
That same year, an Italian-American singer recorded a song that wasn’t to be his greatest hit, by a long shot, but, if you listen to the words, it presented my current message even better than I can. That singer was Frank Sinatra. The song he sang was “Cycles”, written by Gayle Caldwell. Lyrically speaking, the song suggested that no one goes through life without experiencing a low point at one time or another, but that better times are bound to follow. This is the way it went:
So I’m down and so I’m out,
But so are many others.
So I feel like tryin’ to hide
My head beneath these covers.
Life is like the seasons,
After winter comes the spring.
So I’ll keep this smile awhile
And see what tomorrow brings.
I’ve been told and I believe
That life is meant for livin’.
And even when my chips are low
There’s still some left for givin’.
I’ve been many places,
Maybe not as far as you.
So I think I’ll stay a while
And see if some dreams come true.
There isn’t much that I have learned
Through all my foolish years.
Except that life keeps runnin’ in cycles,
First there’s laughter, then those tears.
But I’ll keep my head up high,
Although I’m kinda tired.
My gal just up and left last week.
Friday I got fired.
You know it’s almost funny,
But things can’t get worse than now.
So I’ll keep on tryin’ to sing,
But please, just don’t ask me how.
There you have it. The lesson being that we don’t get to choose what’s going on in the world and often there’s little we can do to affect it. But there’s a great deal we can do, in terms of how we face it, how we cope and how we get through it. Griping, crying, arguing, lamenting; none of those work. But, hoping, having faith, keeping your head up and your nose above the water, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and sharing your hopes with others who are experiencing the same problems can alter the way things appear and the way you handle them. So, never give up hoping. Have faith. Do what’s necessary to stay afloat and look for the tomorrow that I promise you will come. All the while, recognize that all the money in the world won’t bring you mental health or happiness, but counting your blessings and sharing your feelings and emotions with those you love will.