Dear Peak Shrink,
0325, and I can’t sleep. I’ve had a notion about a collapse for nearly 30 years. It’s something that has stuck with me since I was a child, and it seems to be gathering legs now. I am not prepared despite decades of personal capital development….I have a lot of life skills and have had many experiences that will lend well toward survival. However, I’m not prepared mentally for what could possibly befall my tender family. I recently decided to remarry after my first marriage imploded after 9/11. I now have a small baby girl and we live in New York City. I’m tired of living in a target and watching every armageddon scenario begin in my neighborhood. It’s making me paranoid.
It’s incredibly difficult to prepare for any type of disaster in this city. The laws suck, there is no space, money gets stretched thin. I make progress everyday, and it seems to help me mentally, but there are huge gaps in useful literature regarding urban settings beyond the cursory “they’ll get hit the hardest.” It’s disturbing as it makes me think there really isn’t a solution. Unfortunately, simply leaving here isn’t really a viable option today, and I’m starting to feel like I’m quickly running out of time.
I end up swirling through a sort of free radical reaction of paranoia, second-guessing, and wishing things were different. I find that the long emergency ahead is about the only thing I can focus on for any length of time, and all things I do are somehow related to this preparation. It seems to be silently defining me, as I rarely talk about it to anyone. When I do, most people either go off the deep end quickly or just stare at me. It’s been easier to ignore in the past when it seemed to be in the distant future, but the future seems to be unfolding in the now.
“Unfortunately, simply leaving here isn’t really a viable option today…”
Here is the heart of your letter, UU. It is the cornerstone of your poor sleep.
If I told you that NYC would be under water in a week, you’d find leaving a “viable option” because staying would be a “non-viable option.” You are a gambler, and you know it. You’ve been winning the bets so far. The only problem is, the stakes are getting higher, and climbing so much that your baby girl is up for grabs, if you lose. She doesn’t have the time to develop the “life skills” you’ve obtained, and rioters don’t dodge the kids.
The stuff you read about a city like NYC being the target, is because a city is a place where, by definition, is unsustainable. It relies on other places, other resources, outside itself, to survive. Like the child’s poem, when it is good, it is very very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid.
I’m sorry to confirm the difficult fact that just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you, as the joke goes.
If you move away, it will be one continuous hassle, I can see that. You may lose money on a condo or you may have no job prospects. You may find that you could have happily lived your current life another four years, no problem, and you will kick yourself that over that time, you would have accumulated more assets to make the transition so much easier for yourself and your family. You are a gambling man, and you may be walking away from a really big win. I know this because, despite having a notion about collapse for nearly 30 years, you chose to construct a life in a place that’s the scene of “every Armageddon scenario,” and then to make the concept of leaving that self-professed dangerous place “non-viable.” There are reasons for the “huge gaps in useful literature regarding [survival in] urban settings,” but instead of bucking up, and looking at those reasons with a steely gaze, you prefer to explain it as a “gap.”
What do you imagine people should say, when you tell them what you know? “Boy, you are right. I’d better change my entire life around in a hurry. Thanks a ton for that info, friend!” You know what you know, and YOU can’t even believe it.
The “long emergency” relates to oil, my friend. Unfortunately, we are facing a “short emergency” related to economic collapse. You are ignoring instincts, and you do so at your own peril. You are gambling that the risks are manageable, but your gut instinct is telling you otherwise.
I’ve had a number of things happening in my own life, including a badly sprained ankle, a business that has to close, a new household ward struggling against a serious addiction, and a husband who’s crippling headaches have returned. But I have to admit something to you, my Dear Readers: UU’s letter really made me realize how darn lucky I am.
I’m free of the delusion that tomorrow will be brighter than today. I won’t be disappointed if President-Elect Obama doesn’t solve the world’s problems. My goal is to live a life just like those who spoke at a local talk about the Great Depression: They never really knew it was happening. Oh, of course, they read about it in the newspapers, but they lived such a simple life, working only with the basics of growing food, and maintaining a goal of community–free of expectations of government bail-out–that they just went ahead living a life, helping out a troubled neighbor, getting by with even less. Just like the title of a book on the Great Depression: “We had Everything but Money.” As I’m coming up ‘real close and personal’ with that lifestyle, I keep in mind a saying my mother repeated to me over and over: “I cried because I had no shoes. Then, I met a man who had no feet.”
Thank you, UU, for the gift of your letter. It came at the right time for me, just when I started to believe that I had nothing left to say, or that I was so overwhelmed by my own problems, that I had nothing more to give.
And thank you, Shy Wolf, for noticing my silence, and telling me you noticed and felt the loss. Means a lot to me, friend.