Count your blessings is something older people feel the need to remind younger people of, and, of course, those younger people don’t listen. I don’t think of myself as older or younger, but I’m coming around to the idea of smelling the roses from time to time…
This has been one of the worst weeks for partisan rancor and the national divide I’ve yet experienced in my life. The impeachment stuff is bringing out all of the ugly, all of the anger, all at once. Maybe it’s therapeutic. My friend Eddy explained to us yesterday that the 1970’s – with the casualty count in Vietnam piling up, the war over Israel, gas lines, inflation, Watergate, etc – was as bad or worse. But that wasn’t my time, this is.
And in the midst of all this, there are some very joyous things happening in my immediate vicinity right now, a million miles away from what’s happening politically or in the culture wars. It’s helpful for me to jot them down here, just as it might be helpful for you to think about these things in your own life.
Top of mind for me is that our employees are having babies. Lots and lots of babies. It’s the greatest thing in the world to me. I see the pictures of newborns and infants and toddlers of my coworkers on their Instagrams and their Facebook accounts and it makes me smile. I attended the bris for Michael’s new baby the other day, then heard from another employee about being due this coming winter, then bought a gift for yet another employee whose wife gave birth this summer. It’s both wonderful to be surrounded by and an important reminder about what it is we’re all doing here. Running our wealth management firm for the benefit of our clients and employees is my purpose in life. Being the leader of it all is a tremendous responsibility that sometimes keeps me up at night, but for all the right reasons. After the uber-successful Joe Duran told me that running United Capital had kept him up at night plenty of times too, I didn’t feel so bad.
I was at a shiva call (it’s like a Jewish wake) for the passing of my friend’s father two nights ago. I came home and scrolled through my phone and it was babies all the way down. In cribs, in strollers, pushing toy trucks, petting dogs, throwing food, growing up.
I was reminded of a story my partner Barry told me about a wedding he attended in Israel. The rabbi told them about a situation in Jerusalem that occurred in which a wedding procession and a funeral procession were coming down perpendicular streets in the old city, and then banged into each other right at the crossroads. The rabbis leading each of these processions conferred to figure out which should pass through the intersection first. After much discussion, the rabbis decided that the wedding procession ought to go first, the funeral procession afterwards. Their reasoning was that life takes precedence. The happiness of young people, the spirit of new beginnings, the promise of babies and new life coming into the world ought to be given priority over the mournfulness of a sombre event like a person’s passing.
There are things happening in this world, and even in my own life, that aren’t great. There are occasions to mourn. There are reasons to be worried, or nervous or apprehensive. But the joyful events happening all around me take precedence over them. They ought to go first in my mind, and push the other stuff back on its heel.
It’s not always easy to remember this. And, in practice, it’s no easy feat to maintain this mentality through all the hurdles and sudden barbs life throws at us all. But it’s a worthy challenge.