Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Awful Flight Taught Me Market Lessons

A few weeks ago, I had a rough flight from Miami to New York City. It was the perfect ride for a turbulent era, and I learned a lot about money and the markets during that trip. That's because the flight was almost as volatile as the stock market following a grim unemployment report.

As we rocked and dropped through cloud vapors, I studied my options: 1) Pray, 2)Write notes to friends and family, or 3) Go to sleep.

I decided against sleep. Been there, done that. In fact, I can honestly say that I've slept or sleepwalked through other periods of personal or financial turbulence. But that solution solved very little and instead, when I was finally jolted awake, I rubbed my eyes feeling dumb and dumbfounded. So I nixed the sleep option.

Write letters to friends and family? Not very practical, especially due to the up-and-down motion of the plane. And besides, I was too tense and too lazy to string together a coherent sentence. I can't write when I'm uptight.

Prayers? Hmm. Frankly, I offered up a few whispered bargains, deals and promises. And whatever I said, must have worked because I'm here now in front of my Dell laptop computer, which needs a new battery. (And I'm now praying that my battery will be recalled, so that I can call the company for a free replacement.) And anyway, while praying I stared at the clouds and while meditating on clouds, I had a flight of clarity. I calculated that if that moment in the air was really my last, I could at least enjoy the ride.

I re-considered the turbulence. It was a fun ride. In fact, at Disneyworld and Universal Studios I have paid good money -- lots of money --over the years for such thrill rides. And if this was going to be my last flight, at least, I could relax and enjoy myself.

Okay, so I'm not trying to sound like a Pollyanna, but at that moment, the terror stopped even though the turbulence continued. I had no control over the plane, but I could control my roller coaster of emotions. And I am applying that lesson to my obsessions about politics, world events, job security, regrets, missed opportunities and economic uncertainty.

My new contract: I'm going to do my best, say a few prayers and admire clouds. And yeah, I'm enjoying the ride.


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Dannalie said...

Love it! No need to worry about things out of your control. Good job!

Father Sez said...

I used to try to sleep when caught in the kind of flights you have talked about.

I have also taken the standpoint that if this is to be "it", then there is nothing I can do about it anyway.

I has calmed me a lot.

I must say that I have very often wondered about what the other cheerful guys in the same flight are thinking about.