I’m watching the political brinkmanship over the debt with much interest. But this time I’m more detached. A few years ago, I would have been sick over it.
That’s not to say I’m not more than a little concerned. If the U.S. goes into default the depth of economic chaos for us all will be severe. The world won’t end, but a lot of jobs could, which is a bad combination when you consider how the cost of living would skyrocket.
I just don’t see the value in putting life on hold as this thing plays out. The world is going to keep turning, with or without me. I prefer to keep up with the rotation.
It’s a similar situation to what I mentioned recently in a post about learning to shut off the TV news.
When you have an out-of-control case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you latch onto all the things you can’t control and worry about them nonstop. Nothing feeds that devil like the cable news networks, especially when a story as grave as the debt is on the screen nonstop.
I’ve written before about the anxiety and fear I used to have over current events. I would think about all the things going on in the world over and over again, until it left me physically ill. I personally wanted to set everything right and control the shape of events, which of course is delusional, dangerous thinking.
Right after 9-11 I realized the obsession had taken a much darker, deeper tone. This time, I had the Internet as well as the TV networks to fill me with horror. Everyone was filled with horror on 9-11, obviously, but while others were able to go about their business in a depressed haze, I froze. Two weeks after the event, I refused to get on a plane to go to a wedding in Arizona. Everyone was afraid to fly at that point, but I let my fear own me. It’s one of my big regrets.
Part of the problem was my inability to take my eyes off the news. To do so for a five-hour plane ride was unthinkable. To not know what was going on for five hours? Holy shit. If I don’t know about it, I can’t control it!
I really used to think like that.
The fear meant a lot of things. Working myself into a stupor over the safety of my wife and children. An obsession with cleanliness, which was interesting since depression always meant my personal hygiene took a dive.
It also meant a fear of world events. When that Nostradamus movie “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” came out on HBO in the early 1980s, I was terrified by the “future” scenes.
I look at the debt crisis and think back to all the economic tales of doom I’ve heard over the years.
Why am I reacting differently now? I guess it’s because of all the therapy I’ve had over the years. I’ve gotten a lot better at detachment over current events. Through raw experience, I’ve found that the only meaningful change is the kind that starts in your own mind and inner circle.
I hope the debt crisis ends without a default. I suspect it will. If you feel strongly about the proper solution, you should absolutely contact your elected officials.
Just don’t forget that your life can’t stop in the meantime.
I wasted a lot of precious life before I learned that lesson.