General Thoughts

Once again, long time no post. I’ve been extremely uninspired lately and feeling a bit disconnected. “Disconnected” seems like an ironic word to use since I’m now flooded with information on a daily basis through my PDA, Google Sidebar, news and magazines. Yet, for some reason I feel like this information really does not help me understand anything at all!

While living abroad, I was exposed to so many new things and experiences. Couple that with the grave mishaps (the Bush administration) America was up to I always had the drive to write. Here in America I feel like I’m constantly subjected to one big advertisement telling me to buy something and the wonderful experiences that I had in Asia no longer happen here. Instead, new “experiences” are simply different ways to spend money.

It might be that living in the city has something to do with this. There are always things to do but require sums of money to do.

Restaurants, shopping, even Napa involve money. Also, the constant noise, honking, sirens make me unable to concentrate unless I’m at work. Throughout the workday I only think about my accounts and sales opportunities which, while good for my career, do nothing for personal growth.

Thus, my longing to return to Asia. In Asia I feel like I can “slow down,” spend time with interesting people and always be learning. Here, I feel like I’m simply always spending.

To get away from spending I turn to information, the news, magazines, etc. Yet, I feel like I never really learn anything. For example, I’ve spend a lot of time trying to figure out the whole “economic stimulus” idea yet have gotten nowhere. I read the “Economist” and listen to politicians from both sides but in a nutshell this is what I hear.

1. We need a large stimulus to revive the economy. We have to get the banks lending again.
2. What happened to the last stimulus package? Nobody is quite sure!!!!!
3. Will the new package work? — Absolutely no real answers.

As for the hope that the politicians will be able to help, that is fading quickly. I still support Obama but the whole fiasco with Tom Dashle in health care puts a damper on this. I cannot understand why someone who is supposed to manage national programs cannot manage his own affairs!!! As for the economic team, I think Summers will do a good job and there are plenty of smart people in there AND they must do SOMETHING but no matter how hard I try to understand I feel like nobody really has the answer and this package will not work just like the first one did not.

The scary thing is that nobody is sure how far this thing will go. In the news the benchmark is that things will be tough through 2009 but should be improving in 2010. Yet, the reality is that this thing could be very very severe with the entire American financial system in complete meltdown at the extreme end. Even though the probability of that being on the low side, America could enter into a “dead economic period” such as that of Japan during the 90’s.

For me, all this economic talk does not affect me directly and will not until heaven forbid I get a pink slip from my employer. I hear all this bad economic talk but am still able to sell and did make goal last year and am just a bit under this year. Personally, I’ve never been in a better position financially. During the “boom times” I found it more difficult to maneuver than I do now so it would seem I move in an opposite way to the actual economy and what the news is broadcasting.

Even if I were to get laid off which is unlikely, I have an escape hatch right back to Asia where I could always find work even if there would be a big pay cut. For me, money does not translate to happiness. Happiness is reserved for new experiences and “living life to the fullest” which does not mean I have to spend money. The only area where money comes into play is providing for my wife and future family which would involve a house, kid etc.

Therefore, the only solution I can find to actually “be happier” is to cut out the news, ignore the honking horns and not rely on my environment to provide happiness but instead to make it a “mental state.” This can be done but I honestly think it was much easier to accomplish when I was in Asia.

Yet, should I move from San Francisco I know I would sorely miss this town just as I missed Tokyo when in Saigon, and Saigon now that I am here.

Therefore, what have I learned since being here?

1. Money does not buy happiness.
2. I am extremely restless always looking for new experiences.
3. The news does nobody any good and only puts me in a bad mood.
4. I am addicted to information (including the news) and will read it anyway.
5. It’s harder to relax in a city.
6. I really enjoy the peacefulness of my parents porch swing in Ohio but would get bored if I went there to live (In Ohio,,, not with my parents).
7. I like reading the Economist put get tired of the economic angle on everything and would really like to read more from a social point of view.
8. I am more informed but have less answers.

To wrap this post up, I feel as though it is not as exciting as my former posts. Yet, this is my mental state at the moment and it might make good reading for my expatriate/foreign friends. Now, the rest of the day will be spent at the gym, reading the economist and news and playing video games. Seems I’m in a bit of a cycle with no real out at the moment.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/

1 comment

  1. Hey, I thought this was really interesting Matthew. I really admire your honesty. I was intrigued to hear your view that, roughly speaking, the news gives you more information but less answers. Have you read a book called "Fooled by Randomness" or even "Black Swan" (the latter is probably more well known, but the former is better and a very inspiring read)? The author notes that he doesn't listen to/watch the news (TV, radio, papers, whatever) because his view is that it's 99.9% "noise", i.e. there is nothing of long term value that you can learn from it. He says that anything of real value he will find out indirectly – e.g. by people talking about it in the gym, or on the bus. As for doing a job for money, I'm beginning to think it's absolute bollocks. When you remember the sheer improbability of our own existence, it seems like such an utter waste to spend our time doing a job that's unfulfilling (my scenario, not necessarily yours).

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