When I read more unsettling news about the economy, I find myself thinking a lot about what the silver lining could be of the difficulties faced by so many in the past 5 years.
I think there are a few. A return to valuing of things that aren’t about money and possessions: savoring what IS good, smelling the roses more, valuing good relationships with friends and family, and trusted professional relationships as well. These things don’t cost us much to appreciate, and I think these are values and experiences that had less weight when our country was in boom times. I find myself wanting to pick the brains of those who were directly touched by the Great Depression; I think there’s a lot we can learn from how people manage difficulties.
And, as a country and a people, I think many of us are still in some stage of grief, of mourning the loss of what was, even it what was was an expectation of a certain future. As a cancer survivor, I had that expectation prematurely taken from me over 10 years ago, and I can vouch that life can still have a lot of meaning, in fact more meaning, when a certain future is no longer assumed. But first, we need to grieve, and learn how to manage the stress of uncertainty.
At our core I think we’re all resourceful, creative and capable people, who once we learn how to manage stress and uncertainty well can come up with all sorts of ways to navigate setbacks. Our grandparents did. Other people who’ve experienced serious illnesses and other life setbacks have as well. But first, we have to normalize the shame and grief that comes with unexpected loss and setback, the loss of identity of who we thought we were in this trajectory of a certain future. Coming together and making sense of this new world, knowing we’re forever changed by this time and that one day it will be for the better. And in the meantime, banding together. Taking good care of ourselves and each other, as best as we can.
I believe we will come to a better place emotionally and economically, it just might take a different path to get there that we initially thought.