I’m Not All Pessimistic

As the saying goes, “And now for something completely different.”

There are many people who feel, probably quite accurately, I am a pessimist. A strong pessimist at that. As an example, my views on the US economy, and the global economy are best expressed as, “It’s bad. And it’s going to get much, much worse.”

I’ve mentioned, on Facebook, such news items as the Bill Gates story, in which Mr. Gates says more and more jobs being performed by robots, resulting in growing numbers of unemployed, unless the unemployed are willing to work for less that the cost of maintaining the robots.

I’ve spoken with my doctor about the pending demise of such employment powerhouses as Federal Express and UPS, as indicated by companies like Amazon investing in package delivery drones to use for direct from their warehouse to your front door package delivery. The demise of such employment powerhouses as McDonalds, where making burgers, fries, and McNuggets becomes a task performed by robots.

The employment picture is not going to get any better. It’s going to get worse. And worse.

I could continue alone this negative path, and give links to countless stories indicating the end is coming. But that’s such a negative view.

What I have not spoken of, on Facebook, Twitter or others, and have not spoken of with friends, through e-mail, or face-to-face, is a much more optimistic view of what is happening, and what will continue to happen.

It is my view the existing, conventional economy is dying. Look at the closure rates of brick and mortar businesses. Look at the collapse of the music industry. Look at the collapse of the publishing industry. Can you remember a few years ago, when there were small bookstores like Waldens, and B Daltons. Remember Borders? How long with Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble survive?

Examine the television business. What is the impact Internet data streaming is having on that? What’s happening with Cable and Satellite TV? How are they coping with Netflix, Roku, and others?

Even Wal-Mart is not the profit and growth machine it was a few years ago. What does that mean?

The economy is changing. It’s becoming a very different, very highly optimized, very profit oriented, very controlled process. And people are becoming more and more of an impediment to profitability. Wages reduce profit. Benefits reduce profit. Accidents reduce profit. Mistakes reduce profit. Humans reduce profit.

As a result, there are less and less humans working in the economy. Because that’s how to increase profit.

Yeah. A very negative, pessimistic view indeed.

But, look more closely. What do you find. People are working, but not inside the economy. They’re creating new jobs, new businesses, new ways of earning a living that don’t depend on having a job, working for a company.

For example, look once more at the music industry, with independent musicians, taking control of their careers, producing their own music, and marketing it themselves, resulting in bands like Abney Park, and Cruxshadows. Bands outside the corporate world, making their own path to success.

Look at the book publishing business, and the growth of indie publishing. Writers producing their own books, publishing them on their own, and no longer needing the approval of a giant publishing house to become successful. My Kindle Reader account on Amazon shows this trend clearly, given 90% of the books I’ve purchased in the past four years came from independent writers, and small publishing houses. Titles you can’t find at Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million. Independent publishers, with fiction types and kinds, and stories a big publishing house wouldn’t touch.

Then, look at what happens outside the conventional economy, at the small, independent business level. Some people refer to it as the gig job market. People have started offering their skills, their talents, directly to others. It’s the old neighborhood market, returning, with a vengeance, outside the control of the conventional economy. So far outside, it can’t be measured.

Is the unemployment rate really less than 10%? Or is that a way of hiding the number of people not participating in the conventional, working for a living, economy? Search for yourself. Check the Internet. See what you can find about people working in unexpected ways.

Don’t get me wrong on this. I do expect things to get much worse, with many people becoming unemployed, under employed, and living in or near poverty as defined by the economic measures of the country.

I also expect the changes in the economy to continue, with the unmeasurable part of the economy growing larger, becoming the dominant way people make a living. Independently of companies, and their profits, and automation, and their management of human resources.

I may well comment more on this topic in the coming months. Time will tell. But for now, I simply wanted to show I’m not as pessimistic as I sound. In fact, I have a very optimistic view of human adaptability, and ingenuity. I believe the old economy, and its ways of doing things is dying and the new economy, with independent people determining their own economic destinies and fates is replacing it. I don’t expect this transition to be pleasant, but I do believe it’s already in progress, and is growing each year, and will, in the end, change our society into something better than it is today.

I’m not all pessimistic. Remember that.

Mark.

The In Between

How do I resurrect the dead?
How do I bring something
Back to life?
How do I recover something
That’s just gone?

I used to know at least a little bit
Of who I was.
But who I was
Is gone.
Destroyed.

I know who I was
Was anything but perfect.
A person made
Of shattered glass.
Some pieces gone.
Some edges sharp.
Coated in the blood of those
That tried to befriend me.

But I knew.
I knew.
Who I was.
What I did.
How to be.
Every day.

Now.
I don’t know anything.
Anything at all.
I don’t know who I am.
I don’t know what I want.
I don’t know what I feel.
Or even what I dream.

I only know
That I can’t raise
The dead.
That what I was
Is gone.
Never to return.

And I haven’t figured out
What to put in place
Of what used to be.
Oh,
I have some ideas.
Sometimes I think they’re more
Like pipe dreams,
Than ideas.

I keep reminding myself
That no one knows
How long it takes a heart and soul
To heal.

We can guess how long
It takes a broken bone
To mend.
How long it takes
For torn, abraded, lacerated skin
To grow again.

These are physical things.
With rules,
And ways
We can predict.

But how long does it take
For a broken heart
Or a wounded soul
To build the will
To try again?

I keep telling myself
I’m in transition.
Moving from what was
To what will be.

Searching for a life
To replace
The one I lost.

I keep trying to believe
It’s all OK.
That this is how
Things are supposed to be
As I walk away
From the world I knew.
Into a new world.
I have never seen.

Into the unknown.
Into the new.

How long does it take
To stop the flow of blood
From a broken heart,
And make it whole again?

How long does it take
To heal the broken bones
Of a wounded soul,
So it can walk once more?

I don’t know.
Do you?

I only know
This is where I am.
In this in between.
This big unknown.

Using everything I’ve ever learned,
Everything I know,
To find my way to life
Again.

I’m going to take a walk now.
Even if it rains.
Because it’s part
Of who I am.
Of what I do.
Because it helps me
Feel alive
Again.

There Is A Dream I Have

There is a question
That’s haunted me
For years.
One Bruce Springsteen asked.
In a song of his.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”

That question is still there.
In my dreams at night.
I see it in the mirror
Even in broad daylight.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”

I find myself,
At last,
Reaching for a dream.
And wondering
If it’s too late.
And wondering
How many people will get hurt
If I reach for that dream.
If I try
To make a dream
Come true.

At least partially.

But that question,
Asked so very long ago
Remains a question
I have no answer for.

Robert Brown,
Of Abney Park
Sings words that echo
In my heart.
Words I understand
So very well.
About dreams.
And life.

“I’ve packed my bags
Brought back my pride
I’d rather live in rags
Than throw my dreams aside!”

I understand those words
Better than you know.
They haunt me every night.
They ring true
In my changing life.

And I ask myself
Endlessly.
Can I reach for a dream I have,
No matter what it costs,
Or who it hurts?

I have this dream of one day
Writing.
Even though I know
I’d never make a living
Doing that.

I’ll always have to do things
To pay the bills.
To get by
In this life.

And in pursuing that dream
Of writing.
What will happen to the dreams
Of My Lady?
Of my princess bride?

Already,
In the past two years,
All that I’ve been through
Has pushed her dreams aside.

And I just don’t know
If I can find a way
To balance it all out.
So that I can reach
For this dream I have.
And help her
Reach for hers.

But as I search
For answers to the questions
That I have.
Search to find a way
To reach for both my dreams
And hers.

I hear other words
That echo in my heart,
And reach my soul.

“Fear is a natural reaction
To moving closer
To the truth.”

Words from Pema Chõdrõn wrote.
Words I know so well.
Words that always remind me
When I am afraid.

As I am now.

I know that change takes time.
Sometimes,
Lots of it.
And that change
When done well,
And done right,
Doesn’t happen
Overnight.

I know I’m on a journey.
That I have
A rebuilt life.
Built from the ashes,
And the ruins,
Of a life that’s dead and gone.

I’m in a painful transition.
This much I know
Without a doubt.
One that’s nearly
Two years old.
And’s still going on.
Without any end in sight.

And there are things I face
In life.
Of which I am afraid.

What if I never make it.
What if I should fail.
What if my failure
Leads to my lady
Asking the same question
I first heard
So many years ago.
That question I still hear
Even now.

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse”