Smiling Buddha, statue in a Buddhist temple in Cai Be, Vietnam,
August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
Today chatting with a friend, talk turns to the financial crisis. The stock market dropped over 500 points in a single day earlier this week, and major financial institutions are on the brink of collapse. Am I worried? Yes. Is it going to get worse? Probably. Have I looked at the value of my 401(k) to see what the damage is? Hell no!
Nor do I have plans to. Where I go in times of financial crisis is to the future. One foot after the other, I keep moving forward. If it’s totally out of my control and the damage is done, I try not to worry (although, how can I not?). The truth is, I do my best not to think about it.
Call it optimism, faith, or naiveté—I admit to possessing all three. You could say my theme song is Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t worry, be happy.
I don’t mean to make light of any of this. I know people are financially devastated. Old people living off retirement accounts, people on fixed incomes, and all those folks who not only don’t have the luxury of a 401(k) but who will also feel the pain in other ways—rising prices, home foreclosures, job loss. Often, denial just doesn’t work as a coping mechanism.
How do you respond to crisis? And do you respond differently if the crisis is personal versus when it’s happening outside of you?
Each person handles crisis in his or her own way. If the crisis is dangerous in nature—living through violence or trauma—professional intervention may be necessary. Do you seek help as soon as you know you need it, or do you wait until you’ve reached a point of total despair? And when crisis is manageable through your own devices—prayer, meditation, action, avoidance—what measures do you take?
John F. Kennedy once said, When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.
I’ve been lucky or blessed. Maybe both. I’ve only had to deal with personal crisis (as opposed to this current financial crisis) one time in my adult life. Oddly, I found that I acted rather than avoided in that instance.
I did everything I could to take the bull by the horns and steer it in a different direction. I also sought solace in family, and when the going got really rough and I got really scared, I prayed.
Think of the different crises you’ve experienced in your life. Did you deny? Sink into despair? Act? Did you turn to God?
Do you see crisis as a moment of torment or a moment of opportunity? Or both?
Where do you go in times of crisis? Write, for 15 minutes, no stopping.
Crises refine life. In them you discover what you are.
~Allan K. Chalmers