Back To Reality

Dan and his dog, Pepper. Dan did a lot of running in his favorite green shirt.

This morning is the first time all my kids have been in school since March 12th.

My mind is bathing in a lack of noise.

True luxury.

There’s been a lot of activity in the last seven months: COVID, protests for justice, protests against those protests, the election, the Supreme Court and the random violence of American society.

It seems noisy but maybe I’ve been paying attention more than usual. When I study American history, I notice the political arena has always been noisy, especially at the Federal level.

Last week, a friend shared that he’s been actively reducing his consumption of news and it’s benefited his mental health. There’s probably something there.

In my own life, I notice a clear association with spending time in a forest and sensations of serenity in the days that follow. Something about trees, I guess.

Paying less attention to noise is a good idea. Taleb explains why in Fooled By Randomness. Basically, most everything that happens in the day-to-day is static and, when we pay attention to static, our thinking becomes impaired.

Better to let time reveal the truth.

And what might time have to say?

COVID’s going to be managed at some point, our President is right about that. When it does, where will we be?

  • Large on-going fiscal imbalances.
  • Record borrowing throughout society.
  • Near zero rates, with the expectation they will continue for some time.

All the stuff I wrote about pre-COVID: debt, risk of ruin, pension deficits, a disconnected ruling class… it’s all still there.

Looking to Japan, this situation can continue for quite some time.

A disconnected ruling class focused on their personal take, a high level of indebtedness, structural deficits, additional borrowing used in the place of reform, social tension due to obvious structural injustices…

There are big challenges at the national scale and I’m concerned for the American Empire.

However, just like good people can scale up to a mob… …an empire in decline can scale down to a wonderful place to live.

Scale matters.

There is a difference between your empire declining and your life.

But continue to pay attention to long term interest rates and Simple, Bedrock Rules of Personal Finance (WSJ article paywall and summary).

In times of geopolitical change, with the challenges listed above, there is a lot of risk around.

We’ve seen how COVID erased business models in a stroke.

Closer to home, I had a neighbor die of CJD this month. Dan was an athletic guy who we watched go from great to dead in less than 45 days. We miss Dan.

My son wrote a short story about how much Dan’s dog misses him. The story haunts me. The saddest thing I can consider is saying goodbye to my kids.

Life can change fast.

I take comfort from the fact that the challenges of COVID have not hung in my memory.

Being one step removed from the healthcare response, COVID is a grind, rather than a traumatic experience.

I look at my family and see we have improved, that we can handle our challenges and do more than we thought possible at the start of this year.

COVID offered us an express lane for self-improvement.

Our adaptability gives me optimism for the future.