eThoughts : October 1, 2010: The Change/Stability Paradox

Recently, after looking for a new home, I discovered I was semi-broke. Yes, I have a home and I am not likely to lose it—it’s paid for and has been for maybe 25 years. Like most people the home has plummeted in value, but I don’t owe, so I’m not in much danger of being out on the street. And, yes, I have a car—and for that matter an old truck—and they are paid for. Neither the home nor the car is anywhere near top of the line. And yes, I have a job. Not only that, it’s a tenured job—with retirement. There isn’t any medical once (if) I retire—short of medicare and that’s a bit scary—and I’ll only bring in a fraction (one-third?) of my salary. However, I mostly like my job and am incredibly fortunate to have it, and that’s not just lip service, it’s real. I’m not going to advance up any ladders and I’ve hit a semi dead-end in pay, but I’m paid to learn, have good time off, and I am still interested in the work. And I have some economic liquidity—enough for a buffer, but not enough for things to go upside down.

And this lack of a woman bit is driving me up a long wall. I know what I need and recognize there’s at least one someone for each of us, but apparently the woman that I need lives in another galaxy far, far away. I’m not saying that I’m all that and a winning lotto ticket, I’m saying my key hasn’t found its lock (that’s about as sexual as my writing can get until I retire, though the key/lock analogy is meant in a far bigger arena than just sex).

I’ve been fairly prudent in both economic and relationship matters—much more so with economics, but I still have managed to dodge some very weird bullets in both theaters. My prudence has largely resulted in my present position. Certainly one can be too prudent or not enough and still wind-up screwed. But wherever we’re at, and despite being hardwired for both change and stability, sometimes it appears that we find ourselves on one side or the other when we really want to be on the side we’re not.

So I need some change and found out I can’t do it the way I wanted, so I’ve had to rethink the plan. Instead of a house, I bought some outdoor furniture to go on my Jacuzzi deck. Instead of a woman-mate, I’ve got a woman-friend. She is a good friend and I’m glad for it. It’s a real friendship and it really can’t be anything more. There’s no “furniture” to buy in this regard, so I can’t add to what I’ve got.

Sometimes we find ourselves riding on the opposite side of the change and stability paradox than we want or even need. If we’re smart, we do what we can and then have to wait for the rest. Sometimes the waiting seems like nothing more than an exercise in futility, especially when one starts to get up there in age (I’m now 63).

Okay—the larger discussion is about our financial issues, both locally and globally. Even critical issues like health care, education, and becoming environmentally friendly costs. And we’re stuck. And I’ve noticed we’re bitching like crazy and the knucklehead pundits have really come out of the woodwork to cast aspersions. Yep, we’re on one side of the fence all right and it’s not exactly where we need to be. No one was paying attention to the economic, etc. deadfall that we plunged into and so now we’ve got to loose ourselves from being impaled, not to mention needing to find a way out of the hole. We’re a bit stuck, both individually and collectively. Ranting and raving may be a pressure release valve, but cannot be confused with solutions.

So, we don’t buy much. And we’re all a bit suspicious. And most of us would rather have it better than we do.

Consider this: Even with all of our problems, Americans are better off than many, many other peoples. I don’t like being stuck when I want and need change. But I don’t have to make it worse.

So, I sit outside at night on the deck, on the new, great looking, and inexpensive patio furniture and I listen to the new great looking and inexpensive fountain, and watch the fire from the new great looking and inexpensive gas fire pit flirt with the night. Sometimes my friend is over and we talk or admire the silence between the barking dogs. We look at the stars and the colors of the night and the trees and the shadows (okay, we drink some wine, but there are still lots of night colors). I eat breakfast outside now every morning that I can and, sans the fire pit (hey, it’s still summer around here), enjoy the outdoors. I can breathe. I like that.

No matter what side of the paradox we’re on, if we feel good, breath well, think clearly, enjoy the stuff and the emptiness, life is good. And we only have to do those things for a small part of the day to be well. We have to do them everyday, true enough. But feeling good, breathing well, thinking clearly, enjoying the stuff and the emptiness are not contingent upon our relationships, work, home, or economic status—even though all of those entities matter. Sometimes what we have available is our response, even if we can’t fix our problems.

So, I think I will do the best I can to respond well. I’m not concerned that my motivation for anything will be dinged by my satisfaction in the midst of my dissatisfaction. One can be motivated towards change even though one feels satisfied. In fact, maybe that’s one thing we need to learn, how to trust that we don’t need dissatisfaction alone to better our lot, or that being satisfied is tantamount to stagnation.

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