November 24, 2004

I've been thinking more about "equanimity around success or failure", something I also kisrael'd a month ago. There's a friend of my family named Robbert (yes, with two "b"s), a European guy who makes big money doing SAP stuff. (I think he once mentioned some huge financial rewards if I wanted to work in Kuwait for a while...this was back when I was just out of school '96 or so.) Anyway, at Sunday family pub night my Uncle Bill mentioned one anecdote, where because of some scheduling mixup he had to leave some luggage outside of someone's apartment, and when he got back, a nice camera had been stolen, and he took it totally in stride: "ah well, easy come, easy go." It's been on my mind ever since, what an amazingly phenomenal attitude that is to have. I mean I know I would be really upset and ranting against the world in that scenario. Must that kind of tranquility be innate, or can it be learned? Maybe it does have some genetic component, Uncle Bill also mentioned a time when Robbert's son wouldn't pick up his toys, Robbert calmly played the "well you have too many toys, so we will trash these" card, the son calmly removed them from the trash a bit later, put them away, and that was the end of the problem.

I was going to say there's also a financial component, if you don't want to worry about losing an expensive camera it helps to be comfortable financially. Though I think unless I managed to make "I could retire right now" dough, I'd never be able to achieve that kind of balance, even though I'm doing pretty ok for myself right now.

Do people who are that calm have everything worked out? Like they know what they want out of life, and that they're working their way towards that, and so these little hiccups just ain't a big problem? Or are they just calm by their general nature? To what extent could I will myself to further calmness?

Sometimes I think I was happier and more generally relaxed before I started sweating Y2K. Seriously. It's like it broke something in me, or at least bent it. And before that I was neurotic about nuclear war; I guess there was this brief time after 1992 and before 1998 where I could just chill out. Post-9/11, who knows if I'll ever see that again...

Bad News of the Moment
Speaking of anxiety producing things, Economic `Armageddon' predicted by Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. "In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. [...] The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded." One odd factoid from the article: "Nearly half of new mortgage borrowing is at flexible interest rates" Seriously? With rates so low weren't all sane people going fixed rate? Am I missing something? Do people think this guy is onto something?

As a guy who has managed to get out of debt and has some savings, is there something I can do to brighten my own prospects? Buy Euros or precious metals? (Hey LAN3, what do you think of this slate bit on those wacky Bush claims of supporting a strong dollar?)