I was at an event last evening, one that was billed as a networking event. In the true southern tradition, the front yard of the host house was highlighted with palmetto trees, a long white stairwell, and a front porch decked in rocking chairs and ceiling fans. This was an elegant home with modern technology, an indoor pool and its own build in wine chiller next to the refrigerator unit. This was the home you would see from a true southern gentleman or couple who has made a financial stake and maintained it along with an elegant lifestyle. Dare I forget, just a block from the ocean.
The evening air was filled with wine and conversation. Some subtle and simple and others a little more open and risque. This event had a spread of food and beverage, but not the expectation one would have expected from this type of event, at least this observer. The wine was inexpensive, plastic cups were the glasses of choice, chips were in bowls with the bags on the table and cupcakes were in Tupperware storage units. This looked more like a Super Bowl party I would have thrown if I had a day to prepare.
As I sat by the pool trying to figure out if people were networking for career opportunities or networking for company that evening, I witnessed a new society. Not one of riches and wealth, but one where people accepted their means. I would later learn from the host that his retail enterprise has been hit hard by the recession and he still maintains a hands on approach to his stores and has not been able to extend himself to the pleasures of vacationing. He is still a very active member of the community who has connections and options financially, but when you spent a few minutes with this man in khaki shorts, a blue tee shirt and boots, you didn’t see a self made business man with a 2700 foot house on the beach, 10 foot projection television and second floor indoor pool. You saw a lover of the beach, a desire to help others, a wine enthusiast and an individual that understands there are limits to his lifestyle due to the economy.
When I indicated that there is a strong likelihood that this recession or recessionary behavior may not end until 2016 or later, there was a deep sigh.
This conversation and observation on the new America was not depressing or even surprising. It was a glimpse at behavior that has been around for millions of years; adaptation and survival of the fittest. Whether you have fallen under the times of poverty or lost significant wealth and status, so many of us are willing to make life adjustments, ride out the storm and accept that this is who we have become.
Life is and has always been a game of survival. We are given the pawn of life and met with challenges each and every day. I know there are many that are and will continue to fight to keep the social level they feel they have earned, but sometimes you have to let go of the rope and allow yourself to fall. No matter what social bucket we fall into, our influences, our loves, our support will not waiver. They were built on the foundation of caring and love. That doesn’t change with money, social lifestyle or expenses. For some it might and that is something each of us has to internalize and decide for themselves.
I have been fortunate with a supportive family, a great circle of friends, a career that I love and the ability to do the things I love to do.
Last night was a glimpse into a new America and a new world and my admiration goes out to those that see adversity and are not only able to adjust but to accept a new journey in life.