Making the best of uncertain times

Yes, the financial markets are in turmoil, but let's get back to basics.

By Cary Tennis
Published October 14, 2008 10:23AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I saw your paragraph today about feeling jittery. I've heard a lot about this, and I just want to offer a counterpoint: why we should not be afraid.

My advice is perhaps specific to Generation X (my generation) and perhaps Generation Y. But maybe not.

For those who have concrete mind-sets and for whom change is a six-letter word, these are trying times indeed. But for the many, MANY of us who are stuck in dull, plodding work who yearn for a more meaningful existence, this is the call we've been waiting for. In some cases, waiting without even knowing we were waiting. The slackers of yesterday may very well be the prophets of tomorrow.

In a society where everything is "monetized," security means hoarding. But we act as though that is the very definition of security itself. In fact, this is only security in the present environment. If the environment changes, sometimes the meaning of security changes as well. This is one of those times. One definition of security is "freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt; well-founded confidence." We can have that in tumultuous times, we just have to stop doing what doesn't work and start doing what DOES work. We are learning that the basis for a well-founded confidence is in owning our own power, emotions and dreams. Stop clinging and grasping for the past when the nature of life is that things always change. This is nothing new; swamis and such have been saying it for ages. But it's time for a practical application of it now.

There is no Mommy and Daddy to "save" us. We are our own saviors. We are our own heroes. And that is as it should be! We will figure it out, and on the other side of this, we will emerge beyond this bloated adolescence of ours into adulthood.

Much of what we are losing we don't really need anyway. The woman who is afraid of childbirth knows it needs to happen anyway. The alcoholic who dries out is afraid but knows it needs to happen anyway. This is no different. You don't have to live in a big house in order to be happy. You don't need to retire at 65 in order to be happy. The world needs you now, so figure out what you have to give and GIVE IT.

That's all I have to say. I'm not a writer, and much of this has been said before. But sometimes we need to shake each other and repeat things twice.

We are powerful.



Dear Carrie,

I appreciate your letter. I appreciate your optimism and your down-to-earth spirit.

For today, for everyone who is thinking about these problems and trying to manage their feelings about them, I would like to concentrate on one simple approach: Just for today, do you have enough food to eat, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep?

In times of crisis, it can be reassuring to get back to basics. Sophisticated people may find this idea ridiculous. They may say, But I'm not talking about starving to death or sleeping in the street! I'm talking about putting my kid through college!

Still, I would ask, Are you going to be OK today? Are you going to be OK in the next five minutes, or the next hour?

Can you handle today?

Whatever you fear, if it is not happening today, then perhaps you can find some peace of mind and just for today let your fears subside.

I know this may sound simplistic. I know that the subject of world financial markets is complicated. I know that we all have opinions about what is the best approach.

But I also know I'm not going to solve these things today. I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep, be kind to my neighbors, not start any wars, not play with matches and make sure the dogs are fed.

The Best of Cary Tennis

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Cary Tennis

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