Handling the meltdown


How are you handling the meltdown? I don't just mean the stories you see in the media. I mean: how are you handling it when yet another friend or relative calls or writes to say, "I just got laid off..."? I will bet you, two-to-one, that you can't clearly answer that question. I'll bet the fear that you might be the next one to have your world set asunder is so powerful that weak-sounding platitudes are all you can allow yourself right now. But as more and more of those calls come in, it is getting harder and harder to avoid confronting the fact that we are in the midst of a forced migration to a new social paradigm. For the moment, confusion seems to be an acceptable condition. We have been so busy getting somewhere, that it's become difficult to adjust to a world where many of the destinations for which we have prepared ourselves, no longer have value or no longer exist. We are paying a heavy price for an upheaval over which we individually had little control. Deregulation and greed came together to create a bitter cocktail that we have been forced to drink. With the unemployment numbers steadily climbing, and home foreclosures an everyday occurrence, maybe this is not the time to dig deeply into our emotions. This is particularly true when we have been placed on an emotional roller-coaster, when the bad news is sometimes described as being worse, and sometimes as being less-worse, on a daily basis. What are we to make of this daily deluge of information? It isn't just the loss of a job or a home that is shaking us so deeply... it's the loss of a road map to success. What do we study, how do we hone our skills to be valuable in the new environment? Those questions are largely unanswered at the moment, so maybe it's okay to settle for little more than a superficial response to those e-mails and phone calls that bring home to all of us the scary side of this financial meltdown. In times like these, the cliches and platitudes seem to be the best we can offer until some of the smoke clears. No matter what their social status may be, Americans are born and bred to thrive on hope. So when those calls come in, the best we can come up with is something superficial such as, "Oh I'm so sorry, I'm sure you'll find something quickly", while silently whispering to ourselves, "Oh God---I hope it doesn't happen to me.