Major changes in our lives are frequently painful but usually unavoidable. Some are more painful than others, such as the economic transformation our country and its people are undergoing right now as the government and civil society slide into the rigors of semi-starvation, following hard upon years of ease, affluence, and overweight arrogance.
My own life is undergoing immense changes at the same time larger, earth-shaking events yell from the headlines every day. Struggling with a drug addiction, for example, and deciding you're going to win, entails serious and challenging levels of pain. Saying good-bye for the last time to one who has been your closest friend and lover for over 25 years is painful almost beyond describing. And resolving to care for an aging parent, while less painful than kicking a drug habit or a love habit, involves a certain degree of personal sacrifice.
All these changes involve paybacks of specific kinds, in which a toll is required of us for what we heedlessly enjoyed and usually took for granted in earlier times and earlier incarnations. Now the bill is fallen due, and it's unexpectedly high, as is reflected in the faces of the men who steer our stunned governments, and the glazed-over expressions of stock traders and investment bankers. The frivolity and chattering have changed now to the cold, sober light of dawn and the desperately whispered prayer entreating divine mercy, as the goddess Fortuna croaks harshly, demanding her fare.