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Dark Age


May peace be with you.


"It could be worse."

Bill Meehan, September 10, 2001

I'll never forget the "little things" about that fateful September day. The morning was noticeably crisp, almost begging for a moment of appreciation as Manhattan hurried on its way. I arrived at my office on 40 Fulton Street in an exceptionally good mood--we were having a fine year and, while bearish in the big picture, had positioned ourselves for a counter-trend rally. As I settled into my seat, Nokia (NOK:NYSE) pre-announced to the downside and the stock was trading 5% higher. A fine day indeed--and it was getting better by the moment.

It's difficult to believe that history could ever be altered so dramatically. I saw the carnage with my own eyes and it still seems like a surreal and subconscious nightmare. In hindsight, we were naive--almost ignorant--in our belief that society would remain status quo. We were the USA, invincible to the core, and there was nothing that could touch our way of life. Complacency had become a common thread of the collective mindset, an emotion that has ironically reinvented itself in today's marketplace.

Everyone has a story to tell about how they were affected and what has changed. For me, the impact was absolute and altered the very fabric of my existence. I have no regrets as we are defined by our journey and shaped by our experience. Still, I was a different man then--less careful, a bit wild and focused on having fun rather than being happy. I am certain that the maturation process would have eventually evolved but it was not to be. Instead, I was force fed reality in a way that I could have never imagined.

Everything I was--as a person and as a professional--shifted dramatically. I stepped away from my previous writing platform and took the high road less traveled. I stopped socializing with certain circles and quickly learned the difference between friends and opportunists. I migrated away from a position that I worked an entire career to attain after realizing that success has nothing to do with a bank account. And I started Minyanville, a place where we could learn, live and laugh together while raising money for children.

Clarity has crystallized through the years as these changes took hold. The most difficult thing that anyone can do is look within and find the dark spots on their soul. I'm a better man for it although it's been far from easy--one of life's great ironies is that wisdom is typically achieved full circle. In many ways, I feel emboldened by the events of the last three years as I've already been through hell and back. I can't imagine ever being tested like that again--and if I am, I have no doubt that I'll prevail.

A wise man once said that "this too, shall pass" but I don't believe the events of September 11 will. That's not necessarily a bad thing if we can extrapolate a perspective that allows us to be a better and more empathetic community. My fear is that a lot of folks have buried the pain deep within their subconscious and never addressed the true source. Take it from someone who has been addressing these issues from the very start--it's a long journey, and the sooner we come to terms with the problem, the closer we are to resolution.

Take the time this weekend to be good to others and better to yourself. We live in a fragile world and tomorrow, as we know, is promised to nobody. It takes very little effort to be kind to strangers, warm to neighbors and loving to those close to you. The only difference between a lesson and a mistake is the ability to learn from it. If we can't better ourselves after what we've been through, then there truly is a reason for us to fear for the future. It's never too late to start, my friends, and there is a lot to look forward to.

Have a peaceful weekend.

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