When the bear market began in 2007, I thought it would bottom soon. I bet on a rebound that never came. My pulse raced at the news, the win so tangible, the loss unthinkable. They say that hope has strength, but I can tell you, it does not have effect. Every day, I watched another one of my options (bets) expire worthless. My positions turned to dust.
I don’t remember the moment I stopped caring. About a month ago? I became as fascinated with losing it all as I had ever been with winning big. It seemed nobler than trying to salvage some pathetic remnant. All-or-nothing, I doubled down. Over the past couple of days, it turns out that I bet all wrong. I would have to live for hundreds of years to earn it back. The impossibility of this is liberating.
Getting fired sure did clear up my schedule. So I dug out my flute. The old case really did have dust on it, and I sounded worse than when I quit at 23. But the notes were still there, and the endless loops in my mind were silent. I remembered a Bach partita, and played it full of mistakes. I have never been more pleased.
A year ago I barely made time to speak with friends. Always in brief phone calls, often from a cab. Yesterday I just sat on a stoop with my friend (I’m not sure I have any others left) and all we did was bounce a ball. Really, I don’t think we even talked. We downed a forty. It was perfect.
The world is ninety-nine percent poor only if we judge it a certain way. I’m not out to glamourize poverty, but are you sure we’ve got those criteria right? Sure, we want to be free of the tyranny of need. We want to optimize our markets, fund our dreams, extend our knowledge and our powers. But why construct a game where the only way to win is to concentrate capital? Why not reward its conversion into other forms: society, art, liberation?
Think of all the things you have accumulated without happiness. Do you own your positions and privileges, or do they own you? What you would be happy to lose if everyone else would lose it, too? Let’s stay up late and throw it all away. And when this mess is over, let’s dance. We’ll dance like the light playing on the rubble of a ruined city we can rebuild better.