Wednesday, 21 April 2010

the IMF lands in Athens

Are they here already? They should be by now!
Most Greeks consider the IMF some sort of monster that will from now on dictate their lives, axe their life savings and pensions, make them work till they drop, and permanently taint their children's future with black ink.
The irony of the EU/IMF delegation arriving for talks in Athens the same date as the Greek junta back in 1967 is not lost on anyone either.
But what I find most interesting is that at the moment Greeks, regardless of who is to blame or why, are living in a situation of extreme stress and insecurity, treading on murky waters and dominated by a sense of doom, a sense that the worse is yet to come.
How about some examples from other countries that in the past found themselves in or close to bankruptsy and were forced to also deal with massive collective anxiety? I found a very good article from the Guardian back in 2001 referring to the Argentinian case.
I will quote from the start of the article by Sophia Arie.
"Andrea Pena is 33 but she wears a brace. So does her partner. Otherwise their teeth would not fit the moulded gadgets Argentine dentists provide to stop the grinding that was keeping them awake at night. 'I am lucky this is the only physical symptom I have because of stress,' said Andrea, a graphic designer at a Buenos Aires bank. 'Other people have gastritis, hypertension, panic attacks, whatever. Everyone is living in permanent fear because no one knows what the future will be.'
Ha! I think we all recognize some of these symptoms don't we? A friend was telling me the other day that she could not sleep at night because she was worried about the future, another one is ready to flee the country. For the 30something generation this sort of behaviour is virtually unheard of.
To continue quoting from that 2001 article story. "Nobody knows if they will have a job tomorrow or when they will be paid. People are almost paralysed by fear and a sense of impotence. There is a sense that the country is in free fall,' said Jacquie Lejbowicz, a psychologist in Buenos Aires."
Why does this continue to sound familiar? How much are we all aware of this constant stress that we have all had to live under for the past 6 months?

I want to end this today on a positive note. What can we do as individuals to protect ourselves against bankruptsy stress and collective anxiety? Well, we can talk about it, rather than suffer in silence. Protest, if that helps. Reflect on what has happened and learn from our mistakes. Acknowledge that this situation is painful and that this era for many Greeks means the end of innocence - and with a bang.
For me, running, reading, writing, they all help. People around me, family, friends and colleagues, people who care for my well-being, they all help.
Is this enough? Frankly, I don't know. The pessimist in me suspects it is not. But it is good enough for today.

The IMF: Change we can believe in? (Bretton Woods Project)

The IMF: Change we can believe in? (Bretton Woods Project)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Greek bail-out teams face hard balancing act - Financial Times, - Yahoo! Buzz

A taste of things to come? 

This FT analysis includes a helpful comparison between Greece and Argentina, which in 2001 succumbed to the largest sovereign default in history.

Greek bail-out teams
face hard balancing act - Financial Times, - Yahoo! Buzz

how to be creative today

At work, in life, at home, in the track (for the runners among us!) and in the office, the secret to living life to the fullest is simply finding your own voice, your own niche and working from there to expand your space and scale of influence to the rest of the world.
Albert Einstein was the one who noticed it first."The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift".
So what are we doing to discover, savor and protect the gift? What are you going to do today?

Abraham Maslow, the sociologist who descibed our pyramid of needs, put it eloquently.
The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything. 
So, how to be creative in our life and live it to the fullest? Starting today. From the small things. Get an idea or something you want to accomplish and start working towards this today. One step at a time. Ignore outside fastors as much as you can.
Try thinking outside of the box in any given circumstance, questioning yourself at any given point whether you are thinking outside of yourself or not. Be grateful you have been given this chance at life; just ask people who have been given a second chance at life themselves (heart attack sufferers, or survivors from airplane crashes) how their approach changed after their near-death experiences. They are perhaps good examples to follow.
What can I do to change anything today? For me, simply starting this blog is a way to discover my own voice, and to overcome my fears that I don't have one!I will try to overcome my inertia, which wins out sometimes, and open my senses to the world more.

Today is perhaps the day when this country, Greece, goes to the IMF, and the morale of the nation as at its lowest since I remember. This is the fight that we have to give. We need to make little steps towards improving outselves, a sign of not giving up.
Today I will make my yoga exercises to overcome my lingering injuries, I will start on another job application, I will sleep better, I will smile more, I will stop questioning the route my life is taking me, I will be content.
I hope you will be, too. 

Remembering my 2007 trip to Rwanda, a period in my life when I was alert, content and creative. Try to recreate this feeling today!