Skip to main content

Life in the Valley of Angst

When things start to get so good that even Sacramento begins to emerge from the world’s economic doldrums, the nature of work available to Sac’to seekers (both homeless and housed) — like those in the U.S., generally — is going to be fundamentally changed.

Businesses have been hit on the head with the baseball bat of a realization that the future is not secure and they are going to configure their workforces accordingly. Workers, like the businesses they work for, are going to have to permanently adapt to an ever-nervous work climate.

What does this mean? General instability in the workforce. More temporary employment. No unions. Fewer benefits, and a rattier rat race. People’s resumes will have far fewer records of decades-long associations with one company, and far more entries of one-, two- and three-yearweek stints and being constantly on the move.

More businesses will emerge from nowhere, and more will be boarded up.

Stress. Dynamism. Mobility.

Great Recession or no Great Recession, this shake up that will have everybody being constantly shaken up was coming, anyway. Future Shock is Now.

Future Shock was a book in 1970, written by Alvin Toffler, that’s time has fully arrived. Quoting wikipedia,
Toffler argues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a "super-industrial society". This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation" – future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also popularized the term "information overload."
The predicted implications from all this? More fear and depression and more substances out there to medicate and self-medicate against all the turmoil.

All those things and those people which we used to have and know in our lives will seem rented and just visiting. We will be constantly up-in-the-air, except during those times when we’re splattered on the concrete.

As homeless people, we have a jump-start on the future. The mayor and homeless-services industry in our “burg at the convergence of two rivers” have it wrong: The homeless in the future won’t get housed and become, again, “normal.” The housed and established will, instead, become more like us: shell-shocked and subjected to the unflagging cruel winds.

As forerunners of the Great Untethered Mass that everyone will soon be a part of, we homeless can be guides and mentors.

So, here, you working people, trembling in your little homes. A Freebie. Words of guidance to help you when first out on your walk in the Valley of Angst.
The world is horrible and corrupt, much more so than the news media ever let you know, and only now for you in dire circumstances does it really matter. And it matters a damn lot.

Much else that you thought was good never was. Your comforter, now, through all this is only the knowledge that your eyes are open and you can see. It’s a faux spiritual awakening.

Life is fragile, but only those in the Valley of Angst know this.

Little things are wonderful and all the more so when you don’t have them. But when you don’t have them and know they're wonderful, you feel an intense sense of deprevation.
And, finally, for those of you trembling in your little houses in the Wonderland Development Complex: “Swallow, this.”


Nagarjuna said…
Excellent but sobering post. Tremble, indeed, over the frightening future unfolding before us!
Tom Armstrong said…
Sorry, there, Nagarjuna. We homeless generally don't mean to be "sobering." Drink half of a 211 to calm you down. You can drink the other 105 1/2 this evening if you're still nervous.

Popular posts from this blog

The devastating effects of schizophrenia in one man's life

A powerful story of the deteriorating life and death of once-respectable Sacramento citizen, Mike Lehmkuhl,  is told by  reporter Cynthia Hubert in Sunday’s [7/31/16] Bee.
Lehmkuhl is described as a very likable guy with a sometimes-goofy personality that went along with a formidable intelligence. He was a “standout wrestler” in high school and an “accomplished gymnast at Sacramento State” where he graduated and then got into the building trade before going on to run a contracting business and have a home proximate to Country Club Plaza.
Friends describe him as being “happy” and “sanguine” at that time in his life, when he was about age 50.
But, by 2011, when Lehmkuhl was 53, he was hearing voices in his head and his life began to fall apart. He tumbled into a homeless life, combatting demons in his head that spoke to him. The Hubert piece provides a comprehensive picture of a good man beset by a devastating condition: schizophrenia. Lehmkuhl had good friends and loyal family members…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "Cécile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the SelfWhat is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…