When our older son was interviewing with medschools, on the night of his return from one, his plane was diverted to Denver because of fog.
Normally when this sort of thing happens, the fog is at a high enough level that it doesn’t affect people on the ground, or not much beyond the airport, which, in customary fashion is at one end of the city.
And normally we’d have waited till the morning, since the airline would get him home sooner or later. Actually, if he hadn’t had a test the next morning, we’d have told him to take a taxi to the embassy suites we stayed in when they were little, and which is consistently cheaper than the others by half (old decor) and if the airline proved difficult we’d either pick him up or get a shuttle for him.
Unfortunately these were booked at the same time as finals and the next morning at nine thirty am Robert had a final with one of those professors who won’t postpone. (Younger son has one of these, and we’re going to have to leave TVIW earlyish, so that he can make it to a final on Thursday morning.)
So… With Robert arriving just as DIA was closing, and knowing how strange the airport gets in the night, Dan and I drove, through the fog to Denver.
The Highway actually does have several places, for those who aren’t familiar with the area, where there’s a narrow berm, a metal guardrail, and then a fall of several hundred feet.
Normally there is no danger at all in those sections.
I’ve been in fog before, even driven in it. For those who know the region, I used to live in Manitou Springs. Sometimes in the morning, I walked through clouds taking the kid sto school. Or looked down from a crest on the road and saw what you see from an airplane window.
This fog was worse than that, worse than the fogs in my childhood which came out of the downs and made everything past about a palm a vaguely discernible shape. You couldn’t even discern shapes. We were driving, most of the time at 75 — because what if someone came up behind — on a twisty mountain highway, in blank whiteness. We couldn’t tell were the road ended and the mountain side begun on either side.
I half joke that if the universe’s set up is universes where each thing plays out, in most of those we are dead.
Our saving grace was that there were tail lights ahead of us. We followed those tail lights, so dimly perceived through the fog we didn’t know if we were following a bus, a truck, or a car, or indeed a phantom. The lights had that vague quality that they might very well hve been wishful illusions.
We made it there and fortunately on the way back, the fog was still there but had lifted some, and I think our son doesn’t believe how bad it was going up.
Which brings us to right now.
Not only have I not been myself, lately, but people I know, friends, acquaintances, people whose judgement I trust, don’t seem to me to be themselves either.
It’s the little things, the everyday life. People do and say things that lead me to quirk an eyebrow and say “We all have gone a little crazy, apparently.”
And yesterday night I realized why, at least for me.
We all have to make decisions, every day, that involve assumptions about the future. And some of those will be absolutely wrong.
They range from the trivial, like when I buy some food thinking we’ll need it/the guys will like it, and the poor thing goes bad in the freezer because no one, not even me, feels like it.
To the serious: If I’d known 20 years ago how indie would play out, I’d have written a book for submitting and one for the drawer all along and been prepared when indie hit.
And there will always be things you don’t know about. Like indie. Impossible to foresee.
But for the more mundane decisions, we rely on what we read in the news a lot more than you might think. We rely also on a sense of where the economy is. Before you buy that house or that car, you consult your gut feeling of what your income will be.
Sure, you might be in an accident tomorrow and incapacitated the rest of your life. Or you might win the lottery. But neither of those is the way to bet, and you tend to decide based on what you hear from your neighbors and friends/what you see around you/and yes, what the news and the government tell you.
Our official sources and their numbers were so sure we were in a recovery, they raised the rates. I don’t even know if newspapers are still proclaiming Summer (winter, spring) of recovery, because I rarely look at them anymore.
I do know the rate raising removed the one prop from the stock market. We haven’t lost much, because we’ve never had much to invest or even to put away for retirement, but we know people who have.
I can no longer visit zero hedge because son threatened to make me call a suicide hotline if he caught me on it again. He said it was the psychological equivalent of finding your granddad who has PTSD standing in the bathtub with the cord of the plugged in toaster wrapped around his neck.
He’s right to the extent that I only troll zero hedge when I’m profoundly depressed and uneasy. When I have a feeling that the step I see clearly won’t be there when I lower my foot to step down. I know zero hedge is as nuts as the blogger that shall not be named for anything but finance, but for finance they’re sounding if anything conservative.
But I think that even people who don’t read blogs are feeling this. There’s such a chasm between the happy talk of the government and their house organs (and you know what organs) and what we see and sense all around us. It’s crazy making. Some of us are buying houses. All of us are counting on jobs. Many of us run businesses. All of us could get ill and need help tomorrow. (And what one of my friends is going through with health insurance and the unaffordable care act is mind bending and terrifying, and I’m sure he’s not alone.)
I think it makes everyone a little crazy. A lot on edge.
We’re all driving down a foggy road at night. The next turn could take us down the mountain to our death, but none of our means of mass information will or perhaps can show a true picture.
The people who can (I know a few) are hunkering down in a defensible position; are bolstering their preparations; are taking no risks.
For some of us, with kids still in college, this is not possible. We must forge on.
In the fog. Not sure the lights we follow are not a phantom.
And then there’s the elections, where at least half of our countrymen seem determined to steer us off the cliff now, and end the suspense.
May G-d have mercy on our souls. May we come safely to the end of the journey. And may our children find their journey easier, and in daylight, so they can see their way.
In the end, we win, they lose. It’s inevitable, because we align with reality. But let it happen without first destroying the world and civilization. And in our life time, still.