A culture lacking optimism is a culture without a future. Even before the pandemic, American youth had plenty of reasons to temper their optimism. Inequality, corporate dominance, rising debt particularly for school, unaffordable housing, lack of social support for family, the changing climate and the frequency of natural disasters all tend to weigh on you.
I’m a optimistic person so I always presumed I’d find a way around things. And I largely did. I got an education. I started my own company. I sold it. I found I had developed a valuable skill set. I met a man through one of my best friends and we got married. All was well in my American dream for many years.
But cracks had always been there. Little details that made me question common cultural, social and political assumptions. I discovered the limits of modern medicine with a chronic disease. I saw the disaster that financialization could wreck on families with a bankruptcy. I wasn’t naive about our systems and their inequalities.
But the knowledge that the future could be worse than today wears on you. Once you start living in a liminal state it gets worse. The pandemic made it harder for me to believe in the future because the present became a holding pattern. Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory calls this The Long Now.
The more we put off investing in a future the more the long now stretches on. We borrow against all the things that could build us a better tomorrow. And we fall back. We put off doing things that would make our future better because it’s rational to do so. What if things get worse?
I’m tired of living in the long now. I’m investing in myself. I have been investing in my body and my health. And I’m ready to invest in a home. Not because I particularly want to own property but because I want to stop the long now and believe that my future is something I can build.