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Easy Does It


Well said!


Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues
And you know it don't come easy
You don't have to shout or leap about
You can even play them easy

(George Harrison)

Good morning and welcome back to the holiday shack. Tis' the season, so they say, as we tie bows on '05 and get ready to play. As we close the books on what was and cast our eyes towards what will be, this should be time for collective breaths and group hugs. But something is amiss as we ready to kiss, an unspoken air that we all seem to share. With wind chills and market thrills greeting our baited breath, it's time to take a step back and look within.

My particular perch is nestled on East 57th Street in New York City and I scribed this vibe from my humble home. While I'm relatively insulated by the warmth of my surroundings, I couldn't help but notice the sirens and screams from the street below. With the transit strike in full effect, hundreds of frustrated commuters were trying to crowd on to an occasional bus. It's typical big city stuff but on steroids, everything amplified by the basic premise of supply and demand.

We're New Yorkers and we don't fold easy. Strike our towers and we'll band together. Take our power and we'll find a way. Call us out and we'll step up. We pride ourselves on our resolve and not only respond to challenges, we cherish them. We're an encapsulation of the human spirit, tough as nails when we need to be but responsive to the simple pleasures in life. And in a time when the holiday spirit should be shining bright, we're secretly craving the innocence and exhalation the season is supposed to bring.

We know it could be worse and we'll keep it in perspective after the Tsunamis, hurricanes, terrorism, casualties of war, pension implosions, beltway accusations and general distrust that seem to be common threads of our daily dance. But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the collective stress is palpable as we scratch our way to better days.

We often discuss the manifestation of societal acrimony but writing it and living it are two entirely different dynamics, and it has nothing to do with our posture in the financial markets-both bulls and bears are feeling the ever-present pressure. My fear, and something I began discussing in 2000, is that we remain in the early innings of a long, hard road.

As the political arena heats up in Washington and our civil liberties are called into question, the potential for further and acute aggravation is not only possible, it's quite likely. The chasm between the 'haves" and "have nots" will continue to grow, driving a wedge through mainstream society and forcing many into one of two camps. The onus is on us to maintain poise and perspective and stay true to the values that make us who we are.

This column isn't about performance. It's not about net-worth, keeping up with the Dow Joneses or the perceived disconnect between perception and reality. It's about awareness, endurance, perseverance, tenacity, community and the ability to affect positive change. Acrimony wears many hats and comes in many forms, varying in degree but omnipresent across the spectrum of society. We see it in the faces of strangers we pass, we hear it in the voices of people on the phone and we can only imagine it in places we prefer not to think of.

As we ready to turn the page and enter a new chapter in our lives, I'll ask each Minyan to take a deep breath and appreciate the blessings we share. It should never take something bad to make us realize we've got it good. Indeed, in today's uncertain world, tomorrow is promised to nobody. Let's live each day as such and make sure those we care for know exactly how we feel. We can--and will--get through this. Together.

Good luck today.

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