Friday, October 17, 2008

Embracing Chaos

We are in the midst of chaotic times, a tumultous energy that leaves many feeling scared or uneasy. On the surface, this may seem like a bad thing, but these are occurrences that we should actually embrace, as chaos is a powerful tool for cleaning up and clearing. Just as a storm in nature has a cleansing quality after a buildup, a storm in our lives can be a necessary element to allow change.

Consider the current crisis in the financial world. On the surface, we just want it to be fixed and keep things propped up so that we do not endure pain or loss, but the reality is that much of our ecomony has become a facade hiding irrational behavior. We have seen it time and again, and have come to expect that when these corrections occur, someone should fix it or make it right. In the 1990's we had the false wealth of the dot coms that made many multimillionaires almost overnight. More recently, through rapidly rising real estate values, this newfound wealth progressed to the everyday person, who saw net worth climb very quickly as their homes gained value. Had that been left alone, most people would be in a good position right now, but our tendencies toward excess made many tap into equity to such an extent that any decline in value would leave them in a precarious situation, or possibly even bankrupt.

Through our politicians and leaders, who are reluctant to stress personal empowerment or personal responsibility, knowing that will not win them votes from the masses, we have made this a Wall Street/Banking Industry problem alone, pretending that the individual citizens had no play in this fiasco. And while there was and is corruption on Wall Street, individual greed played a role in the problem as well. It is very easy to assume that those bad big shots in the banking industry pushed their products on poor, unsuspecting souls who didn't understand anything about interest rates, yet that is hardly the reality. I personally know quite a few very well educated and successful individuals who bought into risky mortgages such as interest-only, and loans for more than the value of their homes. Simple logic says that you might have to pay the piper eventually. The temptation to tap equity for the new Mercedes, the vacation home, the motor home or an extensive remodel was too great, so logic was thrown to the wind. A simple glance around at our common societal lifestyles, which have become full of "stuff" and living on credit cards, will tell you that we have let consumerism take over our lives in many ways.

If we look deeper at this financial phenomenon, it becomes clear that we have attempted to fill voids in our lives - in our very souls - with personal belongings, thinking that those ecoutrements would brighten our lives and make us happier. Yet if you feel the energy of the masses, it is less than happy and fulfilled, and more likely just cluttered by junk. This "storm" in the financial world allows us a tremendous opportunity to assess and cleanse our own lives, going deeper beyond things and into our selves. Simplifying our lives can be the greatest thing that has happened to us in a long time, both as individuals and collectively.

Rather than expecting bailouts to fix our every problem and mend our every pain, perhaps we should each look at our own lives and attempt to simplify, to live more within our means and find joy in feelings rather than possessions. In doing so as individuals, we will empower others to do the be willing step away from the peer pressure that tells us we need to have more status symbols and choose instead to get real, get simple. Think about your own life, your own finances, and how you can apply more simplicity to your way of doing things. You may open the door to enhancing your own existence, both financially and spiritually, as well as opening the door for someone else to do the same. Each of us has something to offer, and collectively we have much to offer. Empower your own life, and you will empower others in the process.

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