How Do I Really Feel?

By Lloyd Graff

This piece is really two articles. The first is the one I ought to write—the politically correct, optimistic, let’s start the New Year off right and knock ‘em dead blog. The second blog is about what I’m really feeling at the moment as I get ready to embark on the year—my concerns about the known and unknown challenges that scare me more than I’d like to admit.

The optimistic Lloyd sees a blank slate of opportunity in 2016. Last year is history. The export killing rise of the dollar is mostly behind us, oil has taken its hit and can’t get much lower than $35 a barrel. The consumer is going to spend the extra $1000 gas savings on a 75-month lease on a Ford pickup truck and the Millennials will start buying houses and condos.

Yes, probably all true, but my queasy gut is worried about a shaky China and Europe. They have lost their appitite for more stuff that machines churn out of metal. Cars today last too long, Volkswagon can’t play without cheating, and the Chinese are more focused on cleaning up their filthy backyard than buying American steel scrap for building more smoke stacks to burn coal.

The optimistic Lloyd relishes the excitement of a remarkable American election season where we really do get a choice to move this country out of the Obama funk of cautious indecision. But my shaky gut is telling me that we will get Obama Light in Hillary Clinton, the recklessness of a crazy narcissistic Donald Trump, or the cynical power trip of a cunning Ted Cruz. All three of those options would be either bad or terrible for our business, much less our freedom in this wonderful country.

My optimistic self tells me we will get through it. The country is resilient. A President Trump would overreach and be impeached, or a President Hillary would be thwarted by gridlock. But it would get awfully messy and the stock market would free fall. When that happens folks will stop buying new Silverados.

The happy Lloyd looks back at the last 50 years of race relations in America and the enormous advance in the acceptance of African Americans in our society. At my high school prom, even at my liberal Chicago private school, black kids and white kids would rarely slow dance together. Today, it’s totally different. Yet gang warfare in Chicago is more violent than ever and the police are so fearful that they take a shoot first approach way too often. It has opened a gaping rift between the cops and Black people, at least in Chicago. It’s a scary time.

Personally, my optimistic half goes into 2016 glowing about my new grandson and my three thriving granddaughters. My three children make me proud every day as I see them doing well and doing good in the world. But I wonder what kind of meaningful work will be around 25 years from now, as machines become as smart and soon smarter than humans. Climate change does not worry me, we’ll adapt to a warmer Greenland, but will we adapt to the iRobot of 2040? That scares me for them.

I talk a good game 7.5 years past heart surgery, but every day I read the obituaries of people my age or younger and it triggers my morbid moments. Fear of dying or just decaying takes up way too many of my valuable hours. I combat it by working and exercising and zoning out on the iPad and TV sports. But fear of dying wakes me up at night and doesn’t want to go away. Maybe most people fight morbid thoughts in their 70s, but it is something that seems to be taboo to discuss, so I’ll identify it in this blog and ask if anybody has found a useful antidote for the blues.

The closest thing I’ve found lately to cancel out the negative is reading and talking about my Chicago Cubs. This off-season has been glorious. The team just gets better and better on paper and they are the favorite going into next season. It is really fun to picture my Cubs as 100 game winners, capable of winning a World Series. I gobble up every blog and search for new stats about the Cubbies’ projected supremacy. But deep in my skeptical gut I fear the team will be this year’s Washington Nationals—perfect on paper and then collapsing during the long season.

Folks, that’s how I’m really feeling going into this new year. I’ve got my game face on. I have hope. I can pull a smile out of my behind and make it look honest. But deep down I am scared. At least I’m not too scared to admit it.

Question 1: Are you feeling positive or negative about the new year?
Question 2: How do you deal with your dark moments?

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21 thoughts on “How Do I Really Feel?

  1. John Griner

    Lloyd, The “how do you feel” was a great hook to read your article.

    2016 I am optimistic.

    Dark moments: Gratitude: Being thankful for what I have. Good health, a roof over my head, living in a free country, etc.

    I’ve also learned the meanings I give to events are all made up in my head. When I recognize they are just hallucinations, I can generally can give a useful meaning to an event that moves me forward rather than leaving me stuck.

    Fear of death.. Well actually I don’t fear death. I do fear being in ill health in a nursing home. Legalized euthanasia will become accepted as we all live longer and social security runs out of money.

    I think what we fear most is not leaving a legacy. Our genes will go on, our bodies will be recycled, but for most of us we will be forgotten 100 years from now.

    Thanks for the deep question

    John Griner

     
    +5
    1. Emily

      “I’ve also learned the meanings I give to events are all made up in my head. When I recognize they are just hallucinations, I can generally can give a useful meaning to an event that moves me forward rather than leaving me stuck.”

      Fantastic.

       
  2. Albert B Albrecht

    Llyod,

    At 90 I have some of the same feelings – trust the Republican party comes to its senses and comes up with a strong, yet in the race, candidate.
    You will be interested to know I updated my book The American Machine tool Industry – you encouraged me to write the 1st edition. The revision the 3rd edition published Dec 2015 was sponsored by AMT Association for manufacturing Technology.

    Regards.
    Al Albrecht
    Albrecht Associates

     
  3. Cleet Pattyson

    I think that things will get somewhat better this year but not a whole lot and as I am 67 years old and come from a lower middle class family (no frills) I have learned to be cautiously optimistic learning how to deal with life’s good times and not so good times and survive. We will just have to deal with what comes our way.

    The way I have learned how to deal with the dark moments is keep your mind on the better times because life seems to cycle good and bad over a life time. So while times are not so good you have to press on with a positive outlook, keep your head up and do what you can to make the most out of life. The way I look at it for myself it hasn’t ever got as bad as it did for Job in the bible when the Lord let the Devil torture him but he overcame and that in itself should be reason to be positive.

     
    +2
  4. Ryan W

    1) Positive – Last Year for Nobama!

    2) Find light in everything you do. Darkness loves to consume, however can be receded when subjected to an abundance of light. Emotion is a strong presence that can take over the logical side of your mind, making you forget that you ultimately control your thoughts. So why not fight fire with fire, and do things that make you forget about it. Do something that triggers a strong positive emotional response. Watch TV shows you enjoy, research subjects that still spark your intrigue. Play on the IPad

    Just my perspective, hopefully something helps LLoyd

     
    +5
  5. Ken Kohut

    Since turning 70, I ponder my mortality more and more. Often , I hear people say they are not afraid to die—I Guess I am afraid to not live anymore—-” a tale told by an idiot , full of sound and fury signifying nothing ” –sounds pretty morbid to me , if thats all there is.

    I had a friend years ago that always said ” IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, TIS FOLLY TO BE WISE “–I am truly jealous of people with absolute blind faith in whats ahead of us all. But something inside me does scream out that with all the beauty, goodness, love, emotion and wonder in the world —existence must have further meaning.

    “If the whole universe had no meaning, we should never have found out that it had no meaning.
    Just as if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark, Dark would be without meaning. ‘

     
    +3
    1. Brad

      Excellent article and realization of the current economic and political environment.
      Ken, your post is deep. Agree with living on, just want it with ability to enjoy the surroundings that it provides. No such thing as age, health is only factor so hopefully we’ve got some enjoyment ahead.

       
  6. Ken Kohut

    Since turning 70, I ponder my mortality more and more. Often , I hear people say they are not afraid to die—I Guess I am afraid to not live anymore—-” a tale told by an idiot , full of sound and fury signifying nothing ” –sounds pretty morbid to me , if thats all there is.

    I had a friend years ago that always said ” IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, TIS FOLLY TO BE WISE “–I am truly jealous of people with absolute blind faith in whats ahead of us all. But something inside me does scream out that with all the beauty, goodness, love, emotion and wonder in the world —existence must have further meaning.

    “If the whole universe had no meaning, we should never have found out that it had no meaning.
    Just as if there were no light in the universe, and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark, Dark would be without meaning. ‘

     
  7. Maury

    As I’m in my upper 70s and was diagnosed with a serious illness earlier this year, I think about death frequently. However, it doesn’t consume me. Countering such morbid thoughts as life is temporary, but death is eternal is my gratitude for modern medicine, and the fact that it’s available to me. I accept fate, and enjoy helping my family and being charitable.

    My number one worry for my children and grandchildren is the proliferation of ever more lethal weapons of mass destruction. It’s hard for me to dismiss the thought that one day they’ll be unleashed by a crazy leader, or accidentally.

    I also think about the down side of AI. However, I don’t worry much about it for my grandchildren because most predictions regarding technology turn out to be exaggerated or wrong. AI and robotics could turn out to be transformative in a positive way.

    I don’t think we know enough about global warming and the threats associated with it to evaluate it accurately. It certainly has the potential to be an existential danger, but it’s also possible its progression will be halted or reversed. Therefore, while I think about it and am interested in it, it’s not a high priority in terms of worry.

    Overall, I feel good about the present and future. There was no better, more exciting time in history to live than the present.

     
    +1
  8. Jack

    1) I don’t know. Ask me again on 12/31.
    2) It’s easy to get dragged down. Can watch the news and see many that had a way worse day then you. Then you think your day wasn’t so bad after all. But, if you watch too much news you can easily get depressed. Go bowling, have a beer, that always helps.

     
    +2
  9. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    I am gratified by the honest and heartfelt responses to this blog. It is hard to write stuff that gets underneath he fluff and touches the soft underbelly of fear we all feel. Maury, John, Ken and others that wrote in, so far, Thank You. Lloyd

     
  10. Jim

    Question 1: I remain stupidly optimistic. i got into machining in 1988, the start of the long down hill slog of off shoring, yet year in and year out I still love that we are making things, and it is the greatest business in the world. We are fortunate to have so much in our lives.

    Question 2: Optimism is the rejection of pessimism. The republican can only control the reins of government so long through gerrymandered districts. Soon we have a more compassionate government as more women and minorities become engaged in the management of government. We can’t continue to harm the earth and our fellow man and expect better outcomes. I always have my doubts, but choose to remain optimistic.

     
    +2
  11. Russ Ethridge

    Lloyd,
    You hit a vein. Just look at these posts. I’m nervous about the economy, but I will always have work because people will always have disagreements that require a lawyer’s touch. Sometimes, a bad economy is good for me because people will fight over money when it is hard to come by. My retirement accounts………well that’s another story.
    I am concerned not about death but about the trip there. You wonder as you age whether the pain in your gut after lunch is the result of the burrito you ate or pancreatic cancer that will take you out in weeks, an experience a friend just had whose family spent a holiday trying to be merry and bright since it wasn’t the burrito in his case. He’s wondering how death will come. Since there is no alternative, the better approach is to quit worrying about it ………. if only I could !

     
  12. Jason Zenger

    First, I am surprised that so many people reading this are in their 60s-90s…I’m still holding onto my 30s. You mentioned “But I wonder what kind of meaningful work will be around 25 years from now, as machines become as smart and soon smarter than humans.” I believe that this is a very good thing because the number of talented humans available to get the work done in our industry will necessitate these smart robots / machines. I’m not worried about the availability of meaningful work, more worried about willing and trained humans. This is a topic that we have discussed and will continue to discuss on MakingChips…humans being augmented in the manufacturing process by robots and smarter machines. As far as being optimistic versus pessimistic about the future: the big picture is in God’s hands, but also the future is what you make it despite what the politicians do…if you are tenacious and you are setting goals and making things happen, you should feel optimistic despite what is going on…if you are sitting on your “but…” then you should feel concerned about the future. Most people, like myself, or businesses do not have market share domination in their niche, so there is always a place to set your sights on to grow.

     
    +2
  13. Jerry Levine

    To Lloyd and various commentators,
    Lloyd, this is the best post you’ve ever written, and the comments are all substantive. Maybe that is an eternal source of optimism–the genius of mankind.

     
    +2
  14. Daniel

    1.) Positive about 2016.

    2.) I trust that whatever happens is the best thing that could have happened – even when it is something bad, I try to take something positive out of it or trust that eventually something positive will result. I cannot change what has happened so I try to accept it, learn from it, and move on.

    I read a book over the Holiday break titled “Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living” by Dr. Amit Sood. He has worked with 1000’s of patients and researched stress reduction and happiness. He suggests five core principles to attaining a lower stress and happier life: Gratitude, Compassion, Acceptance, Higher Meaning, and Forgiveness. Admittedly, it was a bit of “preaching to the choir” as I am the most positive person that I know (and I believe anyone that I know knows), but I have started to incorporate his suggestion to think of at least three things I am grateful for before I get out of bed in the morning – it starts my day out with the right mindset.

    I tend to think in relative terms – someone always seems to have it better, but I do not need to look far to see someone that has it much worse……I live in the US, I have a loving family, I have a challenging and fulfilling career that I am passionate about, and the list goes on and on. I encourage others to try to adopt the gratitude mindset.

    I appreciate your posts and agree with Jerry that this may be your best one yet. Thanks Lloyd and may 2016 be your best yet!

     
    +1
  15. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    Hello Daniel. Thank you so much for that insightful post. You made my day considerably better (and it was already good) with that thoughtful note.
    Lloyd

     

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