Me: What should I write about?
V: How to get through difficult times with a smile on your face. People need optimism.
Me: … I’ll write about the Fed crushing the spirits of small businesses while funneling cash to large banks.
She is right though, as usual. So I’m going to try.
It’s a challenge. Sitting at my computer day after whatever day of the week it supposedly is, watching the news come in. The Fed has sprung into action, immediately propping up illiquid markets. My local dry cleaner put a handmade sign in the window with a personal cell phone number to arrange a pickup of any needed clothes items inside; might never re-open. Banks collected billions in loan processing fees from the small business lending program. An email comes in: “my husband is too embarrassed to ask, but can you help him find a new job?”. The NASDAQ is trading at all time highs. Suicides too.
Its enough to make you think thoughts you’ve never thought. And this time around you have to process those thoughts without the chance to bounce it off of friends, to see life, to hug. This time around I am not feeling optimistic at all.
Naval Ravikant once said that life is a single player game. And at the end of the day we lay down in bed with our own thoughts to work through. If we want to have a chance at this thing, if we want to get a peaceful night’s sleep and wake up ready to fight again, then we all need to find peace within our own minds. And to do that we have to hold on to whatever optimism we can find.
I went from being a depressed teenager to a confident adult when I trained myself to control my mindset. It’s a hard thing to articulate. People who have gone through similar transitions understand it immediately. People who haven’t, well, I can feel you rolling your eyes. But no skeptic can tell me that I didn’t win the war inside my own mind. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, hardest thing I’ve ever tried to talk about, and the hardest thing to hold myself to. If I can will a healthy mind upon myself then what excuse do I have to be wallowing in depression while my family is healthy and their bellies are full?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. -Serenity Prayer
This little prayer has comforted people with Styrofoam cups of coffee and uncomfortable folding chairs since 1935. And for good reason. The words are simple but the concept is complex, eternal and truthful.
Accepting that which I cannot change runs counter to everything that makes an entrepreneur successful. I’ve spent four years not accepting those things. I can fight back against the largest company in my industry, and win. I can rage sense back into the markets. I can show them all that inflated prices are the problem, not the solution. But I didn’t, I can’t, and I won’t. Losing battles, all three of them.
And I can take those losses and still come back again tomorrow. We all can. The curve has peaked, most likely. Humans have been around for more than a couple years, and yes, viruses have done damage once a century or so, but not once has the virus won. So peek around the corner and we can all see baseball’s opening day. An avalanche of delayed birthday parties and weddings, and yes, funerals too. Because those hugs are also overdue.
And just as we have endured watching the world press pause we will soon watch the world press play. And we’ve all got some catching up to do. We’ve all got some extra living to live.
Let’s just make sure we hold on to the courage to change those things we can. Because soon enough we’ll have the opportunity, if not the obligation, to do so. And that’s all the optimism we need.