I’ve Never Been Richer. Yet I’ve Never Been More Worried.
By every objective measure that I can imagine, I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams on my 46th birthday. Warmed by my fireplace and my Taxi Dog, I made a list:
- I have a wonderful, loving wife
- I have two beautiful, health, smart daughters
- I am strong, healthy, and happy with my self
- I work in a job I enjoy, for a company I respect, in an industry I love
- I am recognized for my expertise and insight in my profession
- I have several profitable side interests
- I have a warm house that my wife and I can afford
- I have money in various accounts for today and tomorrow
- I make more now than I ever have.
For all intents and purposes, I should feel very content. I am the success that I dreamed of as a child. No, scratch that. I am more successful than I ever dreamed as a child, for I grew up poor and my dreams then were very modest.
Today, on my birthday, I am truly wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.
Then why do I feel worried about my future?
I cannot say that my worry is logical. By no measure, should I be apprehensive.
I do think there are existential threats to my profession, yet that shouldn’t worry me too much. There is still a long runway for my skill set and if ICT4D does disappear, I’ve switched careers before. Its not easy, for sure, but it is possible.
Could it be that I worry about my material wealth? With my assets split between stock market investments via retirement accounts, and two massive real estate investments (hello DC & NC mortgages!) I am as diversified as I can be, and both asset classes are solid long-term bets.
Or is it that two years later, I am still not over my Philippine failure? Could the mind-f*ck of losing my job, my home, my family’s place in the world still be lurking in the dark recesses of my conscious, making me feel like every day could be the last before another shoe drops? Maybe so…
Its not my health. I work out three times a week, with a mixture of weight training, swimming, and running. Combined with my Drinking Man’s Diet, I’ve reached my best weight ever. Best of all, I am breaking my personal best running records on a regular basis with longer, faster runs to work.
It certainly cannot be my family. I love my wife, and she loves me. My children are happy, healthy and this weekend, in swim and gymnastics competitions. On their return tomorrow, we’ll have a father-daughter mani-pedi – and I couldn’t be happier!
While I am happy on a day-to-day basis, I don’t fully feel at ease. My apprehension certainly an irrational emotion, all things considered, and yet there it is. Creeping around the corners of my consciousness.
Is it just me? Or do you find yourself oddly worried too?
so true. It is a constant dark alley in my consciousness too. Sometimes our job alienate us from other basic sources of happiness…..investing in nature, building good friendship and travelling the world.
Our sector is a dark alley but we could pick a more stable job. I think what we like from our sector is the excitement to enlight the dark alley in remote places of our planet, and a standard ICT/digital job cannot easily provide this.
Thanks Wayan for putting this subject on the table and happy birthday!
Try living in Brexit Britain……. My how this country has changed since the referendum and not for the better. Not sure you would recognise it today as the country you knew. It’s a shame really and also a source of concern for our children’s futures. All seemingly unnecessary.
I know America might feel like it is splitting apart too with the political divide we are and have been witnessing but it is nowhere near the divisiveness we have experienced in Britain.
The world, of course, geopolitically speaking, is alarming right now with the trade war with China, a potential slowdown in the US and global economy, increasing tensions with Russia and the breakdown of relatively long-standing nuclear treaties and a sense of foreboding in how the countries of the world communicate with each other. There also seems to be an increasing military buildup amongst certain nations and the early stages of a race to space for unclear reasons. It also feels like the unsustainable income divide is growing, leading to unrest and a feeling of resentment which cannot be healthy. Oh yeah, and climate change too.
That said, there are bright spots too. Perhaps we will get a return to democracy in Venezuela by year end and a peaceful deal with North Korea that allows starving North Koreans to begin to prosper and possibly early stage steps to a reunification of the two Koreas.
You have a lot to be grateful for from the sounds of it and it isn’t unusual to feel nervous from time to time. I suspect you sense some of the above. However, every generation has had its fears about the future and survived. Things can work out as the world’s problems are solvable. You are unique in that you are trying to do something postive for others in your daily life through ICT4D and should feel geeat about that.
Nice to have long form Wayan back.
Not that I needed to read this on my birthday…
Wishing you ineffable clarity from Papua New Guinea
God bless you, but you’re brave! This is not the kind of post that most people would write – thank you for doing it.
I’m no therapist but, thinking many of the same thoughts as you describe in the post, my take is that:
a – we’re worried as fathers of young children, as fathers have worried for generations;
b – we’re possibly experiencing a bit of mid-life “is-this-it?” angst;
c – the world is getting dirtier, hotter, more arid & less predictable, and these are long-term trends we can’t seem to focus on long enough to address;
d- part of the downside of living in a post-religious world is that the (truly) religious can take solace in the existence of an afterlife as a balm for their earthly troubles, and the existence of a God to whom they can be thankful for delivering all the good things that life has brought;
e – without belief in God as a grand puppeteer who knows what s/he’s doing, life is so damn random and chaotic that you’d want to be crazy not to worry;
f – Trump doesn’t help.
Maybe you’re wrong to be worried about being worried, if you know what I mean? Worry can be useful as it keeps us on our toes, ready to run when we see trouble a-comin’.
Great to see you back blogging. Keep on doing the Wayan thing – worried or not, I believe the world’s a better place for having you in it!
Your thoughts have given me pause and contemplation over the last few days, with some thoughts emerging of possible value.
1. Most all of your life-observations focus on your personal and professional successes. And they are significant! And, they took place within a period of time for those of us living in the west, of a relatively calm, stable, and constructive socio-economic environment. This has been a post-WWII and the Cold War period—in many ways what can be thought of as a prolonged bubble of sorts.
2. My more recent observations, and I suspect what many of us are coming to conclude, is that this western-bubble may well be moving towards an end. And with this unfolding dynamic, our future personal-professional successes may well be placed into jeopardy…not at any fault of our own actions, but rather due to the potentially expanding unsettled global and national environment within which we find ourselves.
3. These evolving global-national externalities are beyond our personal-professional influence, yet they may well have significant impact on each of us…with the potential that the changing environment we find ourselves in, adversely impacting the successes we have been able to achieve during a more stable and positive.
environment. Even maintaining-keeping past successes could become and issue.
4. I don’t see this as a doomsday scenario by any means, but I suspect many of us do share a growing sense that our environment is undergoing some significant shifts, and these shifts may well place in jeopardy, some of our past successes—and limit future successes.
…just some thoughts to consider.
Here is an attempt at answering the last question in the blog post.
Yes, many of us are uncomfortably worried (even though we live in the best possible time for humanity by all objective means).
I believe one of the causes for these worries are that all of us are very much aware of a potentially very unstable future:
* the prospect of climate change (“what if the scientists are right after all?” – this question alone should worry even the most sturdy climate change denier. If the scientists are right, then runaway temperature is very worrying)
* needed skills (for us and for our children ) in a world of emerging massive unemployment due to AI
* overpopulation (demographics are as predictable as Newton’s mechanics and celestial bodies)
* the current political volatility
etc.. .the list goes on. Chose your favourite worry. No matter what, it is a long list of worries for your personal but also collective future!
So, yes! We do have a reason to be worried. Gone are the cozy fluffy the future is great and I will travel in a floating car ideas of the 50s and 60s.
Now, to be fair, humanity has often dealt with existential threats and fears before. So we should assume that these worries are something that we can deal with. We’ve managed in the past, right?
What is new however this time around, is that we massively over-amplify these worries in our echo chambers.
Even if we don’t read FB anymore, even if we try to abstain from twitter…. we will still read the news and talk with other people and the echo-chamber amplification creeps in this way (via news & friends).
The Internet is a tremendous tool. My huge hope in the late 90s and even until 2010 was that it would democratise, enlighten, fight poverty, bring peace and prosperity to everyone. Alas, I have to admit in 2019 that it became a massive echo chamber which simply amplifies our worries.
How to deal with this? No idea yet. That would be worth a nice future blog post.