Writers know the feeling. We all do at various times. An old note, an old quote, an old recording brings back to mind a time in life that is reminiscent and yet different. I’ve blogged for three years, just about since the market started crashing and right after Obama became President. I looked back at some of the early posts to see how the blog and my writing have progressed. One post resonates, and yet plays in a different setting now. Here I reprise my post from November 17, 2008 with an updated addendum.
Set the wayback machine to:
Tides – Monday, November 17, 2008
Rising tides lift all boats. Okay, the tide’s gone out and there are plenty of hulls sitting on the tide flats. Time for the tide to come back in.
As simplistic as that analogy sounds, boaters know it isn’t always so. Depending on where you moored in the bay, your boat may still be afloat and moving with every wave, bouncy but buoyant. Lots of other hulls are stuck on the mud. A few will be damaged, their hulls pierced as the tide settled them on rocks or other old wrecks. A rising tide is something for those owners to fear. They want the tide to stay out long enough for them to patch their boats.
Over the last few evenings, the tides have been exceptionally low. A low tide near midnight makes for an interesting beach walk in the dark. I stood at the edge of receded shore and looked south down Puget Sound. Even in the day I can’t see the south horizon. The Sound is a bowl tens of miles long. From the sand I stood on to the water level at high tide is twelve feet. I stood there imagining a long bowl miles wide, tens of miles long and twelve feet deep. Within hours the tide would quietly and inexorably fill that volume. Hundreds or thousands of square miles times twelve feet of water. It is easy to feel tiny, small, and weak compared to such a force.
It is hard to tell the exact time that the tide turns. Was this wave the inflection point, or was it a ship’s wake?
The financial tide is turning or will eventually. Like most folks, I wish my portfolio was already being lifted. Already some stocks seemed to have bottomed. Very few are still falling. And I get the early hints that some are rising again, or at least their hulls are slowly rocking as the tide tentatively touches them.
Tides can come in as fast as they go out. Living beside a bay on the Sound has proved to me that the tides make waves that aren’t tsunamis, but are truly tidal waves. They rush and make noise when they move quickly enough. But what’s to say that we haven’t just witnessed the first phase of a financial tsunami? The approach of a tsunami is a surprising retreat by the water. The powerful wave follows and is merciless. Only the most stable structures and the lucky survive. A harsh analogy, but these are dramatic times.
I don’t know how this will all play out. I’m more risk tolerant than almost everyone I know and even I am anxious about the future. But the future is inevitable. All we have to do is wait and it will show up. In the meantime, rather than sit in fear, I’m checking the hull, the charts, and my provisions so that when the tide rushes in I’m not stuck, I know where to go, and have enough to get me there.
And for those who tire of such analogies, I’m double checking my stocks, looking around for oversold stocks to buy in case money becomes available, and making sure of my living expenses, even if that means spending more to establish my art. I’m also checking employment opportunities. If the tide stays out too long I might go get a job to pay the bills, keep from diminishing the portfolio, and buy low as much as possible. That’s a leverage than turn this time from a drama into an opportunity.
Stay tuned. This is a story for the books. This is history.
And now, a return to 2011.
I got the history part right. I knew it was possible for things to be this bad for this long, but I thought it was improbable. Since then, all of my companies are either making more money or are further along with their products. According to zillow, my house value is recovering. I’m feeling healthier. My business is busier. Books, photos, videos, consulting, and speaking fill my schedule. Yet finances look worse for me and the country and the global infrastructure. I’ve done my part, but the external influences of buyouts, bailouts, debt ceilings, currency devaluations, sovereign debt have all worked against my concerted efforts. I am not alone. Great crowds of unemployed expend considerable efforts with insufficient results. At one time I expected corporate greed to prop up the system because it made money from consumers, but the bailouts convinced me that they may have found other sources of cash. The debt crises demonstrated to me that they were fearful of a global confidence collapse, which they contributed to by pulling money out of markets and assuming overly conservative stances. Investments dried up. They held back the tide.
The tide will turn. Many of us have spent the time repairing boats that ended up on rocks. But the shoreline is getting dry. The barnacles and clams closed their doors tight and won’t consider opening them until they’re well watered again. Until then I’ll keep busy, continue to apply for jobs, and openly invite the universe to deliver sufficient and significant economic resources very soon. Lotteries can be won, you know.
By the way, that old blog is ostracized by overly proprietary Apple software. IWeb doesn’t play well with others. If anyone has an inexpensive and efficient way to import 200 blog posts into wordpress, call me.