Sometime during my youth, I picked up the belief that money was very important. Maybe more important than anything. It probably was founded on the belief that if I had money things would be easier and I would be happy. So without an education, mentors, or any reason to believe I deserved to succeed, I set out to get rich. For roughly the next 30 years of my life I worked toward achieving this goal.
At first it was very difficult. I didn’t have money and the pundits said, “It takes money, to make money.” I didn’t have an education. I didn’t have any skills. However I was still young and ignorant and didn’t know what I didn’t know, so onward I trudged.
It didn’t go well.
Then an opportunity came along. I bought a little shop from a friend. I worked very long hours, we bought a second home and rented out the first, and things began to come together.
One of the great things about humans that has allowed us to survive and thrive is our ability to adapt to almost any circumstances. When things get tough, we come to accept it as our new normal and we go on with the struggle. This also works in reverse.
When things are going well, we reach a point where we adapt to this new normal as well. After a while, we can become complacent and dissatisfied, and want more, and better than what we have. Our success can also trick us. We start to think we are invincible; that somehow we have arrived. We know all the secrets and now our success is permanent. I can almost hear the universe laughing.
I can also hear those of you who are just learning this lesson crying. It is a painful, soul crushing lesson to learn.
But again, we’re human, so we move on (at least most of us do), and begin again.
Along the way I became wiser. Soul crushing experiences can do that to you.
I learned about persistence. I learned a million lessons in business, from what cash flow management really means to how to remain agile, and adaptable. I learned about people and behavior.
Over the years I rebuilt, suffered losses, and rebuilt again, each time moving along, three steps forward, two steps back.
Then came 2008. Life was good. Our business was thriving, we were poised to hit levels of income we had only dreamed of.
Then the plutocrats and demagogues, in all their glory and greed, crashed the economy. (Sorry, the bitter, angry, and cynical guy in me still sneaks out once in a while.)
Within 4 years most of what we had accumulated was consumed in an effort to survive. Fortunately our government was there for us. Seeing that our business was now suffering large losses, they decided to step in and do their thing. They decided to conduct an audit. (Sorry again.)
When life throws these sort of circumstances at you, you have two choices. You can “turtle up”, blame the world and quit. Or you can slowly heal up, gather together your resources and start again. The streets are littered with the souls of people who choose the first option, and honestly, I can’t blame them. However, this isn’t how I am built, and while very often to turtle up is what I wanted to do, somehow I couldn’t. Maybe it was because the one truly great thing that life had given me, my wife, depended on me and I couldn’t let her down. Thank you universe.
Times like this inspire great introspection.
From 2008 to 2012 was the toughest time of my life, and I have seen some tough times. But it’s funny how things work out.
I see life in a much different way now. I understand things that I never would have understood without the adversity. Things many people will never see, lessons they will never learn.
We have begun to rebuild again, but now I understand where money fits into the puzzle. It has it’s place and I know where that place is. I understand where people fit in, as well as who I will make space for in our life, and who I won’t. I understand where the past fits in, where that future fits in, and why learning to live today is so important.
I have many, many more lessons to learn and for this I am grateful.
Without this great tragedy in our lives we would never have changed paths, and I’m now looking forward to this new, completely reinvented life. I have the knowledge and lessons of over fifty years of living to begin with. A blank slate and a big world. Anything is possible.
Let the games begin.