Just when you think you’re going under.
Just when you believe your life hits a point beyond anything bad you’ve felt before.
Just at the time you feel you’re going to break, even though you’ve been strong your entire life.
Just when you question everything and can’t come up with positive, reassuring answers.
There’s a shift in perspective.
The wind changes.
Perhaps it’s self-preservation. Cowardice. Not sure.
There was a point a few months back when I questioned the unquestionable:
Is it worth being here? Where was my value?
Did I ever provide value to begin with?
Was it all an illusion?
Was I my career, my job, my writing, my knowledge?
What the fuck happened over the last nine months, can anyone tell me?
I examined it from various levels – 40,000 feet, mostly. Then a nosedive to ground zero.
I was working to convince myself: Perhaps my time in this life had run out. I wanted the control. I wanted to release the coil. To discover where the energy goes. I mean everything runs its course, right?
I asked myself the following:
Would I have better hair? Straighter please. Like David Cassidy.
Would I have private parts that more resembled my father’s as opposed to my mother’s? (Self-deprecating humor is healthy, people).
Would I be famous, more accomplished, a better writer, a more empathetic person, richer, would I have a better nose?
Would I make wiser decisions for clients, friends, loved ones?
Would I be fooled again to trust, to love, to cherish?
Would I still be lactose intolerant?
I couldn’t answer any of these questions. Because you can’t lay out a path for the unknown and your past tricks you to answer negatively.
I realized how important it was, is, to focus on the present.
The breeze taught me so.
At a Valero station. As I pumped gas. I closed my eyes. Focused on where I was, what I was doing. The beauty of the moment. I was grounded. I was still here after all the mental anguish.
Then from nowhere, a breeze came. Warm. It hit my skin and burst around me. The wind (ok, a breeze squared), rare in Texas, felt like nothing I ever experienced.
Because it’s 100,000 degrees in Texas and just plain felt good? Maybe.
Or was I in the present? Aware of the now, which accentuated the sensation. All these years I’ve spent building toward the future, I never fully appreciated where I was today. What a waste.
What a waste to treat the now like it’s merely a weigh station between what was and what was to be. Especially when you realize, life, who you are is right now. Today.
Maybe that’s why I love financial planning so much as I’m always trying to paint the picture of a financial future, when I should be increasingly focused on where people are financially right now.
I’ll never forget that breeze of enlightenment.
1). Realize your ego is the greatest enemy. Your ego thrives on tricking, misleading you. It’s like those hot kids in high school who incessantly reminded you how unworthy you were to hang with them. You weren’t perfect – too short, your face was ugly, too fat, too skinny. My ego constantly reminds me of how I’m not successful enough and if I hit a certain level of success (my ego has not defined) I will be happy. The ego is flowing with conditions and impossible goals that can’t be reached. And if you do reach them, your ego says “listen asshole, you’re just keeping up here. Move to the next level and then I’ll deem you worthy of existence.”
I have learned that the more I focus on what’s underneath me and not what’s in back or in front of me, I can shut that ego down. Focusing on today distracts the ego from its goal – to destroy your self esteem. Limit your potential. It wants you to fail so it can tease, bully.
2). Learn from the past. But don’t let it weigh down your present. I have learned some valuable lessons from people in my past. For a time, those people made me angry. Not any longer. The lessons I’ve learned from the past, help me appreciate the present even more. Some experiences have made me who I am today, added to the texture who is me. Appreciate your layers, who you are, faults and all. The faults, the dents, are great arsenals to appreciate the present.
3). Breathe more. Sounds stupid, I know. During the day, I use deep breathing to gear me to focus on the present. Breathe in deep – hold for 6 seconds. Release. Three times. I then close my eyes and open wide. It’s like I stopped a film, mid scene. Then I ask: What am I grateful for RIGHT NOW AT THIS MOMENT? I can’t tell you how this has stopped Mr. Ego in his wicked tracks.
4). Don’t take out fear and greed on your portfolio. Fear, greed, are ultimate destroyers to portfolio returns. The S&P 500 is off roughly 6.5% from its high point in May, and we’ve seen incredible overreaction by bond and stock investors to sell. If you have specific, written rules for rebalancing your portfolio (buying and selling based on specific guidelines), then you can take advantage of swoons (buy low) and manage euphoria (sell high).
5). Appreciate your humanity. Nobody is perfect. Perfection is an illusion of the ego. I’ve learned “perfection within imperfection” where imperfections allow for differences, discussions and if you’re open-minded: Learning.
The wind was warm today but it was there. From nowhere.
I’ll believe it came just for me. To add perspective.
Where will your breeze come from?
What will it be?