It was the worst of times…

I have been on this planet for 57 years and I have never experienced anything like the state of the world today. I have seen many things but mass depression is something really new. When I was 27 I had very few cares. Unemployment was nothing more than an unpleasant circumstance that would be a temporary nusiance. There was no concept of being unable to find the next job or next career move. Good things just happened. Now, so many people I know are losing their jobs and their life savings, I find myself in a state of disbelief. It’s stunning really. And it’s scary. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I am afraid of what the future holds rather than optimistic and enthusiastic about the prospects.

I have read and studied about religion and philosophy and the best approach I have come up with is a “Zen Mind” apppoach which tells me that there is nothing to fear except fear. Thanks Franklin Roosevelt for that eternally appropriate,very Zen, line. But all my Zen Mind aphorisms can’t shake the dread in me that things are about to get worse. I keep saying to myself “there is no spoon” but I feel it sticking me in the ass.

This gut feeling is making me nauseaus and it’s exacerbated by the roller coaster sensation of being so high on hope just a couple of months ago as Barak Obama ascended to the highest office in the land. Obama’s election and inauguration were so brilliant and inspiring, I really felt like I was watching a moment in history when the world’s axis was shifting. Now I feel like the world kept turning until it did a complete 180 and everything is now upside down.

If I were to keep a scoreboard the tally would definitely be weighted towards the negative. My chopped list includes one lawyer and one paralegal, a number of senior ad people, a couple of guys in sales, a doctor whose practice is down the tubes, several people in real estate and of course a few people in banking. Now we’re used to layoffs and firings in the world of advertising but this is so widespread and in industries where massive layoffs are not par for the course that one must take notice. This isn’t Detroit.

I used to know a copywriter who boasted that he loved being let go by an ad agency because it always led to a better position at the next agency. It seemed illogical but looking back at his career I can see that he was right in his assessment. He always fell up! It was a great example of the Peter Principle. But now that same guy is holding on for dear life to a lower paying job and just scraping by. And happy to have that job cause the options are so slim.

Yesterday I spoke with a long time friend, a restauranteur who has always been so successful in his businesses. He has about 20 places and all but three of them are losing money this year. How do you over come that?

So I know I’m bumming out here but it’s raining outside and I really don’t want to go back to work. I am so envious of those few smart people I know who cashed out early. The ones who sold all those properties when the market was at it’s peak and moved to Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica. I thought that was so severe but now I say good for them! They were so smart. Meanwhile I’m here in Florida with a SEP and an IRA that’s worth shit, owning properties that continue to lose value every day and uncertain if my work can continue because my clients are all in severe downturns.

Of course, if you are 27 now, things are also scary. I have a friend who has a daughter about to graduate with honors and can’t find a position in her chosen field. She’ll probably move back home to Cincinnati from New York, her city of dreams. The jobs are out there but the wages are pitiful. I am not sure if it’s better to be young and at the beginning or old and at the end of a career path in this massive economic shitstorm.

I need a cocktail. As Lloyd Bridges once said in Airplane “I picked a hell of a time to stop sniffing glue!”

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