Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Decline Begins with a Large House

A larger home brings space to one’s thinking. It’s like one’s petty concerns are lifted out of their usual rut. There is a feeling of having emerged from constricted thought that one realizes when living in constrained spaces; that is not conducive to transcendent thought; that one moves to television or to drink in order to rise above the small surroundings, especially if one shares space with others. Now the openness and light of a larger home have brought out the largeness of spirit. One has always thought that the mind should be impervious to one’s surroundings – a Buddhist belief I think with the image of a lotus flower rising amidst the filth of a dirty stream. One’s surroundings do influence you – so one must strive to make it conducive to higher thought. One no longer needs to rely on alcoholic substances to get mental space – a space Ekhart Tolle talks about when one must be alive to the moment without letting troubling thoughts mar one’s serenity.

Still the mental grooves remain; one still persists on living as before, forever throwing ceaseless activity to the mind, to keep churning as in the past. In the weekend, I managed to cram 2 miniseries while enjoying a golf game on Saturday morning. The German mini – series ‘Buddenbrooks’ from a novel by Thomas Mann, was an enjoyable and educational work.

Several weeks back I had watched the English mini – series ‘Downton Abbey’ which I enjoyed – another series about a wealthy family in trouble. Also during the weekend I watched the English mini-series ‘Traffik’ about the international drug trade with scenes filmed in Karachi - Pakistan, London - England and Hamburg - Germany. The mini-series was later made into a Hollywood film starring Michael Douglass. “Buddenbrooks” offers a detailed account of a wealthy German mercantile family, portraying 3 generations, whose decline starts when the descendants moved into a much larger home. As for ‘Downton Abbey’, a large estate is in peril with the death of their heir especially with the high costs associated in keeping the large estate.

So one wonders if decline starts with owning property, which is what happened in the financial crisis of 2009 when sub-prime mortgages brought the housing market down and has not fully recovered four years later. Debt and being over-leveraged are the ills of a society with easy credit, spurred on by securitization and sophisticated financial wizardry that brought down countries like Ireland, Spain and Iceland. This has become the crucial theme of the current election: does one vote for a financial genius - a wealthy business man who deals in maximizing profit and with deposits in off shore back accounts, or a political genius – a believer in the role of government to save people affected by the crisis; spending government money (i.e. people’s taxes) in the classic Keynesian antidote of fiscal stimulus to fight recession. Like the cavalry coming to the rescue, the economy is picking up, with lower unemployment reported last week, thereby bolstering the odds of the incumbent. Tonight is the last debate with the general election only 2 weeks away.

The Republican multi-millionaire has several large houses that one wonders if he is overextended. One is reminded of Donald Trump but without the extravagance and multiple marriages. But it all boils down to diligent labor not over-leverage – for example my plan for salvation, in case things go wrong, is to become a novelist – to write myself out of any financial predicament by sheer hard work and inspiration. A goal I had not had a chance to pursue due to the move and my predilection to read more, watch DVDs, attend online courses and play golf in the weekends. But next month is Nanowrimo month – where I have a chance to jump start my aspirations by completing a first draft of 40,000 words. I am still resting from my labors of completing 2 online creative writing courses but I think I have learned enough of the craft to move forward. I had also registered 500 books read in Shelfari.com, after finishing the book ‘God’s Crucible’ last week; an indication of progress since one must be a reader before one becomes a writer.

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