Filing bankruptcy

March 2, 2009

I have several friends who suffer pretty badly from the current economic collapse. Some of them lost their homes, some got laid off, most of them were faced with the necessity of filing bankruptcy. When I listen to their stories there is sadness, fear and confusion in what they are saying, and sympathy and compassion for what they are going through. It is not easy to have one’s life turn upside-down all of a sudden. Except for one person. She is in her early sixties, she just recently lost her house to a foreclosure after a long and exhausting battle to save it. While she fought to keep her house she was also dealing with her partner possibly loosing his, and she was completing the process of getting her book published. The stories she had to tell during that time were nowhere close to fun and happy. She talked about exhaustion, fear, constant stress and upset, and yet every time, while I listened to her, what I thought was: what a great opportunity this is for her! No matter how sorry I felt for what she was going through I could not help but think: your life wants to change, all you have to do is let it change, all you have to do is let go. She didn’t see it quite this way, and yet that was what emanated from her every time we met. She stopped by today, briefly, to pick up a book. She was just coming back from signing papers that finalized her bankruptcy. She was not at all happy about it and yet again, as soon as she said it, I thought: there are two ways of looking at bankruptcy, one is to view it as a failure, another is to see it as an opportunity. Bankruptcy can mean that I lost. I was not smart enough, cautious enough, aware enough, I didn’t pay attention. Now I got in trouble and can’t get out of it any other way than to admit that I failed entirely and, after a period of punishment, try again, but wisely, better, smarter. It can mean that I was not a good society member, that I didn’t follow rules well enough, that I couldn’t follow the system, that I failed to be successful. It can also mean that I choose not to follow the system’s rules any longer. As I listened to my friend today I thought that bankruptcy doesn’t have to mean that I failed inside of an unchangeable, unquestionable system. It may mean that the system failed me. There is a great opportunity in a collapse of one’s reality, an opportunity of allowing it to collapse so that it can be replaced with a life designed not by a system, not by society, not by financial advisors and habits and customs, but by who I am, for who I am, as who I am.

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