The pressures of modern living make it very difficult for people to put a brave face on it and muddle through somehow; and yet we do.
A ‘brave face’ is not an easy thing to fake. We are not talking about the false smile in the face of adversity. It is the resolute face of people who know what confronts them, and steel themselves to the task.
So much of modern living calls for this stalwart attitude. There may be some who float through daily existence with barely a thought for what faces them. For the rest of us, we weigh up the tasks, put our shoulders into gear and grind on.
Grist to the mill, one could say. Cogs, gears and windmills are useful metaphors when thinking about how a working population comes together. People count themselves lucky to be in employment, and constantly strive to do more.
‘Sink or swim’ might also describe the way our working lives have adapted to changed economic conditions. The ‘special relationship’ the United Kingdom once had with our cousins in North America has gone. As part of the European trading partnership (despite still waiting for the right conditions to join the Euro) Enterprise U.K. has bitten the austerity bullet.
This is not exactly shocking. Conservatives and Unionists did a deal with the Liberal Democrats to gain power and reverse the policies of a quasi socialist Labour government. Private industry has yet to fulfil the predictions of the Conservative Chancellor. Low interest rates devalue the savings of pensioners in real terms, and banks exercise levels of caution, when evaluating potential borrowers, that would have been unheard of in the shady property markets of the past few decades.
‘Belt tightening’ is de rigeur and we all hope for better days ahead. Bull and bear markets, recessions and booms, all come and go leaving a trail of joy and misery in equal parts. It is hard to see it like that if you have been thrown on the scrapheap. Losing job, house and car to a set of economic conditions triggered thousands of miles away is hard to take. Don’t give up.
For some, change is an opportunity to step back and think about what matters. Most of us are so caught up in our lives, that we don’t get the chance to give any deep thought to what we want for ourselves and our families. Adversity can provide that chance for examining in detail our aspirations. Serious illness, unemployment and bereavement are a kick in the guts. Nobody would suggest that you should shrug off the initial, and continuing, pain of that suffering. But there will be moments when you come to think about your life and what it all means.
As Marvin, the paranoid android, used to say “Life, don’t talk to me about life.” You are allowed to think about it, though.