Sunday, November 1, 2009

Musings from the Sunshine State

I've been meaning to write here sooner - but my perfectionistic tendencies have caused 2 months to pass before I can write something noteworthy or newsy or "important" to help inform others. And guess what? This won't be it!!!! Yeah, I've been reading the news and I have my take on it, but mostly I find myself overwhelmed. I started living in a new location (paradise of sorts) and reading two newspapers daily and find I don't care as much as I "should." These things just seem too remote from my life and the life of people I know. I mean has the compensation czar contacted you to cut back your pay or bonus because it is excessive in view of the government loans you received?

One thing nice about my new locale on the east coast of Florida is that most people are from somewhere else and heat induces a relaxation response. And although the work ethic of many tradespeople would not fly in the Northeast (I hail from NY) it is a great relief not to have explain myself by what I do for a living. It seems that in NY anyway,people are defined by where they live, their job titles and their net worth. If any of those arenas are shaky, it gets hard to explain yourself.

But here in the sunshine state people are defined by whether they can drive, see above the steering wheel or eat dinner at an early bird special. The first thing is not where you live, where you went to school, or how much money you make. Actually the quality of your life matters more than the other stuff. Whether you have time to enjoy your life counts for a lot.

Plus being here is like the reverse of "Cheers." Remember that TV bar where everyone knows your name? I am grateful to be where no one knows my name and is unconcerned about my status or merit points. Sometimes it feels like I'm taking a breather or even hiding out a bit, but in a strange way I'm percolating on seeing what matters to me now - now that I have been liberated from the job, the title, the treadmill of achievement that I had been on for a long long time.

The sunshine can be startling, as can the heat, but it's hard not to smile at the balmy breezes, the magnificent cloud formations and the knowledge that tomorrow might be just like today. A bad mood can be lifted by a walk to the beach. It's giving me time to think and realize that life really has been too much for me to take in at times - despite all my efforts. Maybe I wasn't meant to be in the rat race so maybe it is a blessing that I no longer am?

As I read the same newspapers from my perch in Florida, I realize that although my healthcare is exorbitant, and I am technically part of the long term unemployed and my investments tumbled like everyone else's, nothing I read anywhere leads me to believe that me, or people like me will benefit from anything on the government's list of fixes.

I have been thinking how in my life I did the "right things" - You know college, post-grad education, worked hard, had a skill and thought if I did all the right stuff, life would be good. Yet I can see that the tradespeople got the pensions, steady work and opportunity to fund a second career. Some of those folks now offer to do handyman work in my house and will only take cash - so they don't have to pay taxes. I am not confident that my native honesty and integrity and hard work got me anywhere. But I do know I am happy with who I am and can live with what I've done. I am, however, surprised that it didn't lead to a more successful turn of events. When I read the happenings of wall streeters and top business people, I see that greed does pay.

I know many people took the path I did, and are now in the same boat. They feel themselves oddly to be over the hill because they are out of work at 50, and wonder if they will get back on track. I wonder what the track was and why I clung to it so. The payoff wasn't what I expected and now I see that forging one's own path may be the way to go.

But for now, when it seems I have a hard time navigating in my own simple life - to find meaning and purpose and put one foot in front of the other, I don't know that reading the news is really a help at all. I think I'm keeping informed, but it all seems far away. I am truly grateful there are others out there who are trying to sort out the problems of the world and make things better. I would like to join the ranks of people making a difference and maybe it will turn out to be the case.

But for now, the news about ridiculous pay for executives, whopping profits reported by companies about to go under 12 months ago and war news from places I feel we should not be - well that all seems quite remote from my world; from the day to day stories that people share with me of their hardships, challenges and fears; they seem to have so many more "real" worries than anyone in the media seems to acknowledge. And so I wanted to do that here. I feel your pain. I know it is real. I wish and hope that we all find a way to get things growing again.


  1. Hi,
    Life has certainly had some unexpected turns for the way most of us live today. I was born in the 50's and the rules have changed. Not only for me, but, I think, for most of us. That is partially because of so many of the technological changes that have occurred in the same period.
    I work in the investment field and agree with you that it does seem like "greed pays", as you say. I have worked with some of these people and feel that many are corrupted by greed when they are in view of making BIG money.
    I like to feel that one day the world will right itself. That would mean that people who contribute - whether with brain or brawn - will reap their just desserts. I read an article where two current TV shows were compared: "Madman" - which takes place at the beginning of the upward path towards rampant capitalism - and too much greed, and "Hank" which chronicles a family that has been pushed out of the top money life and learns to experience life from a more "quality of life" perspective.

  2. Thanks for your post. I too believe that the world will right itself and we are now living in the decline of an era, so something better can be rebuilt. And Madmen does remind me in broadstrokes of my childhood!

  3. I enjoyed your post. I have also struggled with how to tell my story. Although the details can vary depending upon the listener/audience, I eventually cultivated a genuine thankfulness for the past, joys and pains alike, that makes telling it easier. An awareness that all the common hallmarks of success and achievement don't necessarily represent the condition of someone's heart alieviates the sense of inferiority that might otherwise creep in. And if I'm lucky enough to meet a like-minded, like-hearted person of compassion, I know they've seen their share of pain that earned them those qualities. Finding the grace to let go of living to impress, and embracing living from the heart has paved the way for easier, more joyful living. I find I can now live among the "noise" of self-promotion without feeling the pull to join in, but rather watching the human struggle for validation from a safe distance, thankful to be missing out on it. I accept my mistakes with humility and an understanding that they were necessary to my process. I weed people out of my life, or limit access to my time, not because they need something from me, but because after time spent with them I'm left, somehow, feeling bad about myself. So as the 50's are knocking at my door, I don't wish for my 20's or 30's...(OK 40's are working just fine), but the exchange of some youth for much more wisdom isn't so bad afterall.

    Thanks for publishing your thoughts, hope to be able to read more.