“May you live in interesting times” is supposed to be an ancient Chinese curse, but I can’t find evidence that the saying is Chinese at all, much less that it’s ancient. One of the earliest reliable citations seems to be a 1950 short story by the British science-fiction author Eric Frank Russell, writing under the pen name Duncan H. Munro, who quotes the imprecation and then adds: “It isn’t a curse any more. It’s a blessing.”
The Washington Post
Thursday, November 27, 2008; Page A29
That’s the glass-half-full way of seeing this extraordinary moment. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the holiday season, it feels as if our nation is at a cusp, a brink, a verge. It’s true that if things get much more “interesting,” we might have a collective nervous breakdown. But along with the anxiety, there’s also a sense of rare opportunity — a chance to emerge better than we were economically, politically and socially.
Easy for you to say, many people would respond, and they’d have a point. I’ve been as mesmerized and freaked out as anyone watching the stock market lose nearly half its value, then recover some ground, then oscillate so wildly that a 200-point gain or loss in the Dow is the new definition of a slow day. I’ve lost money (not that I had that much in the first place), but I haven’t been wiped out the way some people have. I don’t have an adjustable-rate mortgage or a house that’s “underwater.” My employer is still in business.