“Just you wait . . .” Throw in a wagging finger and Audrey Hepburn and you get the scene from My Fair Lady that plays through my mind. I know. Just you wait and a wagging finger is probably part of many less entertaining moments from real life, but I was brought up on musicals. Which scene would you rather have playing in your head? In any case, I’d rather not wait for a lot of what I’m watching happen. On the other side of the mess we’re in is a very intriguing future.
The pangs of depressed stock and housing markets, stagnant employment, unstable economies, and intransigent short-sighted governments are good enough reasons to skip the news. The media has a surplus of discouragement from which to sell fear, doubt, and worry, which I believe is largely self-fulfilling. I’m not the only one feeling pangs and I can sympathize with those still wanting to sell a house, find a job, and not have to worry about the collapse of major institutions.
By the way, I’m healthier now. Over the last two years I’ve gone through a series of aches and pains that were far more than pangs. Various healers helped a lot, and while each worked from their methods and expertise, one central message came through. Breath in. Breath out. Enjoy the moment.
As I sit at home typing this post I could retype my lost of worries. I’ve probably posted about all of them in this blog. Instead, if I notice where I am and how I feel, the picture is actually worth quiet celebration. I’m sitting at my kitchen table. My stomach is grumbling a little (oatmeal does that to me sometimes). I’m warm and dry. The house is quiet. Outside is a sunny autumn day with a few clouds over the Olympics. Puget Sound is even quiet, with water flat enough to spot whales. I’ll look later. The pantry has enough food for weeks. The propane tank is full. There are apples and roses in the backyard. I’ve got tea with honey and brownies beside me and there are gluten-free brownies in the fridge. In some eras, this would be a utopian moment.
In today’s civilization though, it is necessary to plan for the future too. One simple plan is to have an enormous net worth with decades of living expenses accounted for. Most of us are working from more active plans. Jobs, businesses, education, or active frugality are things we engage in today to increase the chances that we’ll be comfortable in the future. As I pointed out in a previous post, I’ve got lots of lines in the water. Each of those lines are efforts to use my skills to benefit me, my community, and the world. We each work as we can with what we have. I hope I help.
The variations on those possible futures are infinite. My to-do list is more varied than when I was a lead engineer at Boeing. If all of my projects succeeded, I’d have to hire people to help. I like the possibility, as long as we all get paid enough too.
The variations on the world’s possible futures are also infinite, and much more varied. I believe we’re heading to a healthier attitude towards each other and towards the planet. Some of the bizarre ideologies running rampant are frequent fodder for comedians because of the bizarreness. (Wow. Spellcheck didn’t throw out bizarreness. Bizarre.) I think some people are most irrational before their cathartic moment that leads to reason.
Most of my investment are in possible improvements to the world: radically shrinking electronics to use less energy and fewer resources (Microvision, MVIS & GigOptix, GGOX.OB), teaching the body to cure cancer (Dendreon, DNDN & Geron GERN) and better energy utilization (Real Goods Solar, RSOL & American Superconductor, AMSC). Buildings are being designed to better standards (LEED and beyond). Various collaborations are aiming at bringing entertaining, enlightening awareness to more sustainable lifestyles and societies. Global shifts are happening outside the attention of the media because they don’t fit the editors’ norms. I think the Arab Spring and its desire for freedom and expression is an indication of larger movements rather than an end product. We are working towards a future that can be sustainable and then thrive.
In the meantime though, we have to wait. We have to wait for technologies to develop, archaic institutions to either change or dissolve, healthier lifestyles to be adopted, and people to find a common goal. We also have to wait for the consequences of our past to play out. Suddenly finding cheap energy would be great, but centuries of pollution won’t go away with the flick of a switch. Economic models radically different enough to avoid familiar extravagances will be challenged in courts for years. Adequate food, health, and education can take less than a generation, but someone poor, sick and denied schooling may have to wait years for all to be resolved.
I am a fan of frugality. It is helping me through my tight times by giving me more time in which to work, and more options to work from. Frugality also means that a little extra cash covers a lot of expenses and a nice sale, salary, or windfall can rapidly drive me back to sustainability, enough, and some excess that can help others too.
It can be difficult to not worry. Worry seems to be a common characteristic amongst my similarly workaholic friends. (Have I ever truly been retired?) Frequently I fall into too many what-ifs. What-ifs are a mental exercise that are necessary for plans, designs, and dreams. But what-ifs can also be a swirling trap of worry.
I’m healthier now that I pay more attention to the now. I think I’m doing the right things and spending more than enough of the right energy towards appealing and highly probable futures. And in the meantime, I’ll consider what-ifs. But I won’t spend too much time there because, for the most part, between now and that future, I’ll just have to wait a little while.
(Let me check my messages. The future comes quickly nowadays. Despite all odds, the wait could be over more quickly than any of us expect. In the meantime, time for another cup of tea.)