Who doesn't feel scared?
A friend, whose husband died this year, suddenly moved her hefty 401(k) into a fund that guarantees a 4.73 percent return.
Out of panic? I asked her.
Absolutely, she said.
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I can empathize.
That was me you saw at Target the other day, my fist full of $1 coupons, stocking up on staples.
I've begun jotting down every penny I spend, gripped by a desire to know exactly where my money's going.
Another friend told me she's obsessed now with making each sliver of soap last a bit longer.
If hope is that thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson put it, then fear is that thing with quills. When we're afraid, we pull in, batten down, cling to what we have.
These tricks might help reduce our stress – and maybe make the dollar stretch.
But there's a downside I hadn't thought of. Because some of us are clinging to what we have, others are hurting.
I stopped in at the Salvation Army Store on Central Avenue on Monday, convinced I'd be told that sales were up because more people were “shopping down.”
What's worse, says head administrator Maj. Cecil Brogden, donations of clothes and household items are way off.
Where do proceeds from the store go?
Next door to the Adult Rehabilitation Center, a long-term residential rehab for men whose lives are shattered and broken.
As Brogden puts it: “We take your recyclables and recycle broken human beings.”
Store sales make up almost all the center's operating budget. When sales are down, naturally the program suffers.
Brogden is sympathetic to the price fear exacts in our lives.
He's been in Charlotte long enough to know that we're a community that enjoys spending and sharing and spending and caring.
The downswing in the economy is changing that. We've become a city clinging to our every scrap.
I once knew a clergyman who was fond of asking this:
What are you holding onto for dear life that, if you let it go, could give you life more abundantly?
Is it fear?
Is it that Hickey Freeman suit you bought back in 1989?
Or that too-bulky, hand-me-down dining room table languishing in the garage?
Whatever it is we can let go of – be it fear or extra worldly goods – perhaps we will feel a sense of abundance restored.
And even if we don't, someone else definitely will.