Three days ago Jamie Lee Curtis published a HuffPost piece called “It Is A Wonderful Life.” It’s one of the most inspiring responses to the economic trouble we’re all facing that I’ve read since Election Day.
The gist is that too many of us have become drunk on lifestyle comforts over the last 20 or 25 years, wrapped up in them to the point of isolation and neurosis, living inside (and keeping life out of) our SUVs, McMansions, iPhones and whatnot. And that the severe economic downturn that we’re all going to suffer through for the next couple of years will be kind of a good thing in that it will force us to come out out of our cocoons and eat less and engage and share and generally pay less attention to the idiot wind.
Curtis is right, of course. The next two years (perhaps a bit less or more) are not going to be pleasant in a Great Gatsby/Louis Quatorze sense of the term, but material abundance has never done much for anyone’s soul. I think we’ll all come out of this period in a richer spiritual place than we’re all sharing and feeling right now. The big-feast way that comfortable middle-classers have been living in this country has been appalling me for years — too much food, too many toys and drugs, too many video screens, homes that are way too large and lavish, cars that guzzle way too much gas, etc.
“Many Americans are now feeling that pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization of financial loss and despair,” Curtis writes, “and many are facing financial ruin. Many men and women are feeling the shame and fear and anguish. I’m sure many have wondered if the world would be better off without them, that the judgments made about subprime loans and the lies that they were fed about them, were their fault and failures — theirs alone. They are not alone.
“I don’t know if we should bail out the broken auto industry. Now that gas is back down are we all going to go back to business as usual? Go out and buy a big guzzler just to keep the broken thing creaking along. Is that real help? I don’t know. Is loading up our plastic really going to help? Is debt the answer? I don’t think so.
“What I do know is that we are fat. Obese. See WALL*E. That is the future. We have fat lifestyles, fat habits, fat minds and arteries. Last week, Obama said that it was going to get worse but that we would emerge, leaner and meaner. I don’t think lean is mean — it just rhymes. Lean is healthy. Most of us eat too much, super-sized lives and meals. My four words to a better life, brand new, self-help/beauty/how-to book is being published right here on the Huffington Post, downloadable for free — right here, right now.
“Eat Less, Move More.
“What this crisis is going to do is bring us into financial alignment. Families may have to live together again! What a concept. Grandparents will live with their grown children and help raise their grandchildren — even at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Neighbors are going to meal-share and carpool and child care for each other and maybe even rent out parts of homes to other families. Less meat, more beans. Might be better for you anyway. Less indoor gym workouts and more walking, more park time, more family outdoor time.
“Obama promised change. Change comes from truth. Jung said, ‘Only that which changes, remains true.’ But as Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ Can you? Can you handle the change? You can if you understand that you are not alone, but that we can handle anything together.”.