The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a bellwether for the economy, dropped over 630 points today. It’s down over 2,000 points in just a matter of weeks.
You look around and see the glass is half empty. This has nothing to do with being a pessimistic or optimistic person. It’s just a fact. It’s reality. The economy, after three long years of attempting a recovery appears headed downward as Wall Street tanks in response to the debt ceiling fiasco and government credit rating downgrade. The Great Recession is rearing its head again. But it’s not just the economy that gives me reason to pause with disgust. It’s the realization that all I do is have a rooting but passive interest in life. I don’t feel I impact the world around me, but rather that world impacts me.
Believe me, it’s hard to admit defeat, to realize I’m inconsequential. But it is true. Maybe it’s time I make some changes. Could novels lead the way?
The reason we escape to fiction and entertainment is clear: The world around us can get too burdensome, too lonesome, too exhausting, too full of denials and disappointments. But when we sink our teeth into a good book we forget our troubles, our imperfections, our losses – and we let our imagination visualize a better, more ideal world. In fiction, we find love, riches, family, fame, and power. We get to rewrite the rules or align a world with structure and fairness. We can go off to the dark side as well – root for a murderer or revel in what the corrupt do – and then step out of that world and back into the real one, without prejudice or penalty.
But I’m sick and tired of rooting for others to succeed or do the right thing. I root for the government to act responsibly and in our best interests. It has failed us miserably for many years. The last 10 years have destroyed America and all parties are to blame. You want to say “Vote them out” but you wonder what will replace the partisan incompetence, ignorance, ideological bankruptcy. Each nation is a theater with the same play. It’s not a conspiracy – it’s a virus. The human condition is a disease that one struggles to remedy.
We spend a lot of time and energy rooting, hoping, and praying that others will do well. We do this with our Congress. We do this with professional sports. We do this when we play the lottery or go to a casino. We are always hoping something good will happen for activities that are essentially out of our control.
I’m sick and tired of it.
I just want to bury myself further in a comforting escape, to a time and place that asks nothing of me. I want to take a long sleep, where dreams let me leave without repercussions. I want to enjoy a movie or a good book where there are no tolls. I ask for too much or too little because any way you slice up life the pie never seems to feed our hunger fully.
The human condition is self-destructive and not fully evolved. The world can manifest its own condition and choose to be better than it is. Instead, we choose the world we have now and it’s not looking too pretty.
Perhaps our greatest minds need to take to writing fiction. Maybe if we all live in a fantasy world we can build one that serves as a model for the real one. Or maybe we need to collectively be in the same boat and face up to the world’s ugliness. Perhaps we should ban all escape hatches for a week – no TV, movies, plays, novels, video games, etc. – so everyone is forced to confront the world, simultaneously, on its own terms. No distractions, no escapes, no selfish moments. If we all had to share the same circumstance, mind and body, even for one minute, the world would be radically different.
But because we have a great parachute in the world of make-believe, such as novels, the world will also continue to go on along its path of chaos, destruction, wasted opportunity, lost resources, and violence. Yes, it’s true. The worse the world gets, the more we seek a safe haven in our imagination but the more we do that, the more we remove ourselves from participating in life and taking responsibility for the world we live in.
But I couldn’t imagine a world without, well, imagination. I believe our nation’s novelists can create better worlds, not so we can allow ourselves to escape to them, but so they can be a blueprint for the world we must build anew.
I just hope this is all a dream – or a nightmare – that I awaken from and allow life to again be fun, mysterious, and hopeful, for right now it seems like the worst is yet to come.
Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can read his blog (http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com) and follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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