Friday, October 10, 2008


On Friday the stock market was really amazing.

Nothing much "real" had changed overnight except investors' attitudes. Attitudes are really real alright.

When I first noticed the first big sell off I thought to myself "this has all the characteristics of a panic." It was not past events or even the immediate present that was provoking such anxiety and fear in so many. At first I supposed it was just fear of the future.

Funny how that works. One day I can be so up and optimistic and eagerly anticipating the future and all the good things I foresee. The next day comes and I can be down and out and think things are just never going to be better.

So that happens to everyone. But this seems different. So I wondered if it was a sudden mass realization of just how ingrained was the human capacity for greed and selfishness and bad behavior and the consequences of so many doing so much the same thing all at once. I had that realization once.

The first big plunge was followed by a rally and then another sell off and that cycle pretty much repeated over and over during the course of the day.

During the day I was thinking about what was happening. If you have a cell phone or a TV or an Internet connection or go anywhere at all it is hard to avoid some news so I knew about what was happening. I had other things to do as did a lot of other people so we weren't really glued to the tube so to speak.

Still I had plenty of time to reflect about what was happening. I think I realized something interesting that I had not thought of before.

Use to I would have said that calm was the opposite of panic or maybe euphoria. But this stock market event has helped me develop the thought more clearly.

I think now that perseverance is the opposite of panic. Usually perseverance is defined as persistent determination or the act of continuing. I think these definitions lack something though and that's adversity. It isn't hard to persevere if there is no adversity.

If you are standing in the lot and one of the horses is running away from you it is easy to remain standing there. But if the horse is running directly at you and seems a bit upset then standing there becomes considerably more difficult. I think that's perseverance.

You can feel the panic at such times well up from down deep inside you somewhere. It is more than fear. All at the same time there is terror and anxiety and shame and fear of moral failure and probably some more emotions I can't quite remember.

And what you want to do is run like the wind to get away from whatever the threat may be. But if you stand fast then that's perseverance.

At lunch Friday I became reacquainted with someone who had been a boy when I saw him last about 20 or more years ago. He's all grown up now and is an FBI agent. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was doing well and as it had turned out that his job was pretty much recession proof.

We all laughed.

But then I thought it was really true. People are not committing fewer crimes. He's probably in a growth business. He was transferred here from a much larger city. He told us about some of the cases he'd investigated dealing with mortgage fraud. I do not consider myself naive but I was shocked to hear about some of the details.

In past days I've visited some of my friends who are in the financial investing business. I left them alone on Friday because I thought they probably had more important stuff going on what with the news of the market and all.

But they've told me before how difficult it is to stick with a certain discipline when things are going the wrong way. That's perseverance.


Lori1955 said...

Well the stock market drop has hit me hard but I will not sell.But, I'm not sure if thats perserverance or just being plain bull headed. :)

Susan M said...

I'm with Lori. Not sure if mine is perserverance, bull headedness (a word?) or the feeling of been there done that one more time.

Talking with my brother who is in his seventies, I recalled a Bette Davis movie when she was waving a cigarette around and saying "It's going to be a very bumpy night". Yep bumpy for sure, but this is the first time in my life that I'm ready to hang on.

I was in public accounting during the S&L crisis and I sure hope what the government has done doesn't have the unintended consequences that they created then. Only time will tell.