Going Home

Scott Reamer
  JUN 04, 2003 3:12 PM


The exact point of exhaustion is a uniquely personal thing; everyone’s break point is different. And whether the source of that exhaustion is physical, emotional, financial, psychological, intellectual, or some combination, matters little. We each have our limits. The symptoms of exhaustion, however, are less unique. Patterns tend to form, responses tend to coagulate around a known set.

Today represents that point for me.

Many readers probably are unaware of the serious but as yet unnamed disability that has struck my 2-year-old son Jackson in the past six months. A happy and normally developing child has morphed into a boy that can no longer speak, feed himself, use his arms or legs, or hold his head up. Being unable to name or treat that condition has been a source of unending frustration and heartache for my wife and me. But being able to draw upon a large reservoir of good will and prayers from friends and family has been essential to keeping up the fight and the hope that we will find out what’s going on inside my son.

But I have a hedge fund to run too, and responsibilities to my limited partners and to our own personal assets (all of which are in the fund) to meet. Those responsibilities loom large because running a hedge fund has long been a dream of mine. Ever since I got into this business on the sell-side in 1993, this is what I have wanted to do. But it is a risky business and the outcome more often than not is binary: you perform well and prosper or you don’t and you are out of business. It’s that simple.

Simple indeed. Despite what amounts to the most intense professional effort of my life, I have performed poorly this year. Not only did I miss too much of this rally, I have been fighting it – intellectually, psychologically, and financially – since May. Indicators, signals, signs, data points, evidence, statistics: I have untold numbers of each that have been important and fruitful in the past that have been flashing warning signals of late. None of them have worked.

Today’s new high in the indices was my own tripwire. My own unique point of exhaustion. My limit. The shallow breaths, the lack of appetite, the sweaty brow, the racing heart; the telltale signs of a stretched mind making its marks on the body. Reflexively, I stew about my performance; about how if I did absolutely nothing, made not one trade in the past two weeks, I would be better off than I am now; about what an idiot I must be for missing the rally; about how much more money everyone else is making; about the pain of posting my performance numbers.

And if I did nothing, if I just stayed home and did not come to work to lose money, I could have spent much more time with Jackson to boot; that’s the real kick in the stomach.

Perspective, they say, is the buoy that stabilizes in rough weather. Turn off the monitors. Shut down the IM. I’m going home to spend some time with my son Jackson.

I need some perspective.
No positions in stocks mentioned.