Okay. So, What?

April 6, 2013

U.S. Geological Survey - Public domain image

U.S. Geological Survey – Public domain image

After talking over my rising blood pressure with the PA who sees me for most of my routine medical care, we decided to up my blood pressure medication. Since I am otherwise healthy, it seemed a sensible thing to try. It’s always about 20 points higher in the doctor’s office than it is when I take it at home. Still, what I consider my “normal” blood pressure is quite a bit higher than what the medical community considers healthy. And, as I am not getting any younger (including my blood vessels,) I’ve decided to see what I can do, on my own, to “help the medication work”.

Over the years, I’ve cut back on my use of the salt shaker dramatically, though unless you can afford to eat only fresh meat and vegetables, nearly everything purchased at stores, these days, contains a good deal of hidden salt.

Although I don’t have a formal exercise program, I’m rarely still. Even the time I spend at the computer is interrupted every few minutes to do something that needs attending to. I garden with hand tools; I go up and down one or two flights of stairs several times a day just to get in or out of my apartment; I keep a couple of two liter bottles of water beside my desk to do lifting and stretching exercises when I think about it. And, of course, I walk almost anywhere I go around the neighborhood since I don’t drive.

Nevertheless, I do read the news every day. I do see signs that the American Empire and the huge energy, military and financial systems it has built to maintain itself are all fraying around the edges and gradually collapsing. I do see the subtle and not so subtle signs of a destabilizing global climate and its effects on the health of our environments. I do see the decline of cheap, easy to access fossil energy sources the world’s economic growth has depended on for the last one hundred years and the effects of trying to maintain that growth with more expensive, harder to access fossil energy.

And, like any good doomer, I worry about all this. I worry about my aging self, as things go belly up; about my kids and their kids; my family; my neighbors; people who don’t see what’s coming and aren’t prepared for it; people who do, but don’t know how to prepare for it; people who live in other countries that are being destabilized by the Empire’s fight to save itself. I even worry about the non-human populations extinguished or displaced by it.

Yet, as I came home from the doctor’s appointment, new medication in hand, and sat down at the computer to read that day’s news, it hit me just how little control I had over any of these things. And how much the tingly anger and fear and worry I feel in reading the news really comes down to that lack of control.

Okay. So, what?

If the housing bubble or stock market bubble or student loan bubble or any of the multitude of bubbles now building in the economy should suddenly burst, do I have any control over that? No. I do not.

If the big banks go belly-up and our government uses the Cyprus template to rescue them by seizing depositor assets, can I stop them? No. I cannot.

If Kim Jong Un decides to act on his rhetoric and lob some missiles at South Korea, or even at Austin, Texas, is anything I can say going to change his mind? No. It is not.

If the government decides to kick the financial can or the climate change can or the peak energy can down the road in a desperate attempt to maintain BAU, will anything I do make them stop it? No. It will not.

So, we are everywhere urged to fear this, be angry over that, worry constantly about it all and, if we only fear, feel anger, worry enough (and give enough money to The Cause) – by ourselves or in mass – we can exert control over all this. We can “bring change”. No. We cannot.

Change will come, not because of our attempts to control it, but in spite of them. There seems to be a tendency among doomers, as things get worse, to go into a frenzied cycle of boom or bust over every little news item or statistic that may herald The Change that will “bring it all down”. We worry it to death, afraid we’ll be caught off guard, angry that it doesn’t work out the way we expected. Does all this change anything? No. It does not.

Change is non-linear. It takes time for the black swans to hatch, fledge and leave the nest. And no one can predict their flight, or where and when they will land. We simply can’t prepare for every possibility.

Okay. So, what?

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve decided to quit. Quit being angry, quit fearing, quit worrying over things I can’t control. This doesn’t mean I will no longer check out the news, fire off an email or letter to a local, state or federal official acting in a more egregious or stupid manner than usual. Or, that I won’t join a local protest where it might have some actual effect.  Or that I’ll quit prepping or writing this blog.  It just means, that having done so, I will send it out into the universe without anger, fear or worry and with no grand expectations.

I hope it means I’ll have more time and energy to control what little I can – Me. My behaviors, my emotional states, my choices. Who knows? Maybe even my blood pressure. It’s sure worth a shot. So, that’s what.

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7 Responses to Okay. So, What?

  1. Silvia TIC says:

    Hi Linda, thank you for your honesty and your always inspiring posts. Although I don’t share your choice of “so, what” for today’s blog, I do understand it. Your health comes first, without health you may not be able to continue doing the valuable job you are doing…
    I always think that, in the event that something closer attracts my attention (such as a personal or family illness, accident or any similar situation), I would probably make a similar choice…but for now although my head says I’m not able to control or influence much on what’s happening, my heart is not there yet. And in a way, I don’t want it to be there: the more I see and read and watch, the more I hurt, and I want it to hurt, because that tells me that I’m alive and continue to be me. I also feel that those who are not aware, those who don’t have a voice or have no power, well, they need more people who are aware and have a voice and have at least a little bit of power.
    Sometimes, however, I give myself permission to focus only in me, my family and my garden.
    You have inspired me all this time; you are a friend out there who knows what I know. You have been strong and wise, continue being who you are. All those who have no voice and no power (all those bees and birds you help with your garden, all the people you affect without knowing them) will be with you…
    Take care

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Silvia. Thanks for your kind comments. I grew up under that nebulous cloud of chronic fear and anxiety that abused children live under. Having worked my way through that over the years, it angers me to see how much those in power use fear and anxiety to manipulate people – especially fear of each other. Even people who see the system for what it is aren’t immune sometimes. So, for my own sake, I’m just saying, “enough”. I’ve added meditation to my daily regime. (Me, who always thought the idea of sitting around with your eyes closed and “doing nothing” was heresy. :D) I find that kind of emotional relaxation out in the garden. Guess I need to carry it over into the rest of my life.
      A big hug to you.

  2. eugene says:

    I think you’ve done a great thing. I decided some time ago to be apathetic. i used to attempt to talk with people but just got tired of being a nut. Being 71 helps a lot. I think the time to do something is long gone. However, keep up the blog. I enjoy your perspective and will surely enjoy your apathy. Being out of control takes some effort. In America we’ve been thoroughly indoctrinated with “anything can be done” and “each new president will save us”. Endless stories are told of those who gave up their lives for one cause or another. All it does is create frustration and stress. No story for those who gave up their lives and nothing happened which is what really happens.

    • theozarker says:

      LOL, hi Eugene. I never minded being a nut; just got tired of being an ineffective nut. And yeah, age does change your perspective (and your energy levels) a lot. Not so sure it’s apathy as much as a shift in priorities. I still care deeply about our problems and our futures, but there’s just so much emotional energy one can spend on all those big things that only seem to go from bad to worse. So I’m just shifting that emotional energy to things I can actually do something about – my gardening, my writing, localizing my energy more on friends, family and neighbors, I guess. Got my early garden in this week, just in time for some good rain and cooler weather. We’ll see what comes up.

  3. Linda, this is really great stuff! Congratulations on your progress, and thanks for describing it!

    Controlling the world is an art
    That’s mental, but not really smart:
    As we exit our role,
    We can’t even control
    How our bodies are falling apart.

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