Change Is In the Air

by DavalosMcCormack on February 17, 2009

Sometimes even the corniest, most cliched statements are true. What makes it even more fascinating is when you discover that in the most unlikely of places.

Shirley and I love to play squash. We’re not very good but we are enthusiastic, running around and getting a great workout. Unfortunately the only really good squash courts in town just happen to be in a pretty posh sports club.

Now, I’m much more used to working out at your basic gym. Nothing fancy. But this place has the works; a spa, steam rooms, a sauna, pilates and yoga studios. It also comes with a hefty price tag. But we use it regularly and we don’t have any other expensive habits or hobbies so we figure it’s worth the money.

Not surprisingly the folks who also work out there are pretty rich. At least the men are. They won’t let me in to the ladies changing room to listen in on their conversations to see how they’re doing! For the past few years it’s been interesting to hear them talk about their holidays in the Caribbean or Europe, their dining experiences at the fanciest restaurants in town,  the fine wine they just bought, or the even finer Italian sports car they are  now driving.

Most of the time I feel out of place there. My budget is far more modest and my politics more moderate, but I love the facilities so I keep going back.

The other week I heard three fellas talking about the market and the recession and the plight the country was in. Now these are investment bankers and financial analysts, no soppy bleeding-heart liberals by any stretch of the imagination. Then one said “You know, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why they call it the present.”

I was waiting for the other two men to laugh at that little ditty, but then one of them said “That’s the third time I’ve heard that in the past two days, there must be something to it.” Then they started talking about the really valuable things in life; family, friends, health, love.

I was gobsmacked, not so much because they might consider these things truly important, but that a rather cliched aphorism led them to the discussion of these things.

It struck me that maybe this recession might actually have a truly profound effect on how people, even the rather rich, think. If this group of still well-heeled folks are reconsidering what is important, what matters most, then maybe we really are going to emerge from this as a stronger, wiser nation.

It’s a bit of a stretch I know to extrapolate from one conversation in a gym locker room with three portly, paunchy older white guys to the mood of a nation, but this isn’t the first time I’ve heard people talking about how these tough times are changing the way they see things. There really does seem to be a sense of change in the air.

There are clearly going to be tough times ahead, not just for Americans but for people all around the world, and it’s going to take a huge effort to turn things around. But if we can retain this sense of what truly matters in life, that seems like a pretty good place to start.

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