One of the most difficult ways to earn a living is sales. I know because I have tried it. The problem often is that it is the one job where most often the pay is tied to performance. If a customer or client does not say yes, the paycheck suffers. At times, there may be no paycheck at all. Also, there is the troublesome matter of taxes to be prepared and paid right after the expense of the holidays and while the sunshine is lacking. This is in addition to the little and large hits to one’s self-esteem when your best effort doesn’t produce any result. For me, it was a life of uncertainty that didn’t suit.
Lately, I have not failed to notice how many people I’ve met seem to be in a funk. It isn’t just the weather. I believe it’s the uncertainty. On the day before Thanksgiving, I find disheartening thoughts out of step with the occasion. As a (sort of) public service, I will attempt to spread some of the causes before us so that we can, at the end, bundle them up and set them aside for a time and enjoy the turkey.
Let’s start with some of the uncertainty that swirls around from the world. Democracies, including our own, are struggling because of the discontent of various citizens. Some of it is economic malaise, but much of it is cultural. For some people, there is just too much diversity of thought, of allegiances, of tradition. Cheered on by Autocrats and their governments who want to limit oppositional thinking, these democracies are having to deal with protest that sometimes becomes a mob. A few of the autocratic regimes are dealing with protest too, but those seem to simply want to change the character of the government in absolute control.
Nationally, there is a stock market, which is reaching for new highs, but market commentators warn every day that price is out of touch with value. Certainly, there is no joy in returns on saving alone.
Then there is the looming impeachment vote and trial. I was in Germany when Nixon resigned before a final vote, but I remember that even there the endless media conjecture — it seemed to me that the Washington Post just kept dragging it on—took a toll.
My recommendation? Turn off cable opinion and keep up to date with the weather over this weekend.
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Locally, the unnerving parallels of huge food drives and overwhelming retail hype bothers me. As I wander around, I can’t help thinking, “Are you one of the people/families/children/businesses facing an uncertain future?” My mailbox is stuffed with need and peril. How can I make a difference? Even without much uncertainty in my own life, I can feel it from people around me. I can see it when someone serving me in a store or restaurant talks about three jobs or needing all the hours they are given to work.
Isn’t it a miraculous thing that somehow our better angels have established traditions that bring us hope during the darker days of our northern hemisphere year?
Yes, there are all these things. Maybe there are some health issues. However, there is an opportunity for a community pause. From now into the New Year, we can concentrate on setting aside uncertainty and bundling up our thanksgivings.
We can absorb the light we and others create through kindness and memory as well as what we surround ourselves with decorating for the holidays.
We can take the time to reflect on what is certain. Love, laughter, caring, hope.
We see the truth that we somehow manage to find warmth and light when we gather closer together.