Digging into enough14 Jul 2020
Being appreciative and grateful for the things we do have is one of the most important things we can learn from the current pandemic.
Dear Charlotte and Ella,
‘Occasional outbreaks of those two super-contagious diseases, fear and greed, will forever occur in the investment community,’ says a super-rich guy, Warren Buffet, as the world experiences a pandemic and braces for its repercussions on the economy.
Fears of the coronavirus fill the airwaves. People are sick. People are worried. News stories abound: whether you should buy face masks or not, how fast the virus is spreading, and how close is it to a city near you?
Charlotte, you came home from school expounding your knowledge on the coronavirus, what it was, where it came from and how we could prevent it. You obviously had been briefed on the virus at school. Part of me was concerned that a five-year-old should know so much about an outbreak but then I thought knowledge is power. And knowledge in this case, when applied, may keep you and others healthy.
I remember Swine Flu (H1N1) in 2009. Your dad and I were working in Canada and everybody just about lost their mind with fear. But a vaccine was created, we all, or most of us, got our shots and then the world quickly forgot.
Since there is not a vaccine for the coronavirus yet, we wait. We wash our hands, take our vitamins, eat our chicken soup and wait. Wait for a vaccine. Wait for what’s the next right action. I try not to watch the news too much so I stay sane but I’m aware, attempting calmness rather than imagining calamity.
That was until the stock market was rocked. Serenity went out the window. Your father and I remember the crash of 2008. I was living in the US and he was in the UK. In the time following the crash banks failed and businesses closed. People lost their jobs, homes and savings. Families were destroyed and even pets abandoned. It was a dark and frightening time.
So, this week, as stocks worldwide tumbled I felt my heart sink, my stomach clench and my head spin. I was already imagining another global recession. I called your father to check how much our banks insured their deposits. I began scrolling the news for predictive market watches. I guess I just forgot that God is in charge. I’m not.
At one of my long-time friend’s book club, I recently met Lynne Twist, the author of the Soul of Money, founder of The Soul of Money Institute and co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance. When she speaks of her work and travel, Twist’s stories fill the room with excitement, hope and possibility. As a mother of young children, she committed her life to ending world hunger through her work at the Hunger Project and beyond, which led her to train alongside Mother Teresa and meet with the Dalai Lama.
GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION
Twist’s main message is one of gratitude and appreciation. She reminds her readers and the communities she works with that there is enough – money, food, volunteers and resources. We just need to change our thinking to recognise this and to put these resources to good use.
In her book, the Soul of Money, Twist dedicates an entire chapter to what she calls, ‘Scarcity: the great lie’. She writes, ‘[T]his mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life, and it is deeply embedded in our relationship with money.’ She continues, ‘Our relationship with money is an expression of fear; a fear that drives us in an endless and unfulfilling chase for more.’
Later in her book, Twist recounts the 1987’s stock market crash, known as Black Monday, and how it rocked her family and many others financially. She recalls that although her and her husband never recovered the money they lost that day, they turned their attention to take stock of what they did have: love, family, health and purpose. That was what mattered. They had each other and as long as they had that – it was enough. Financially they were affected but their life was still blessed. The stock market couldn’t take that away.
BOUNTY OF OUR LIVES
‘We realised that, although the stock market would do what it would do, when we let go of the conversation of fear and anxiety, and created a different conversation focused on the bounty of our lives – then our fear subsided’, writes Twist.
She and her husband realised their own financial recuperation, as well as their wellbeing, began when they changed their focus from their fears to appreciation. She recounts, ‘For those who remained stuck in the conversation of crisis – and some never left it – the experience of loss and fear continued, and over time depleted not only their financial reserves, but also their emotional, and for some, even their spiritual, resolve.’
Today, I dig deeper into enough. We have a roof over our heads, petrol in the car and food in the refrigerator. There are too many blessings to count. Our lives are brimming with love, family, health and purpose. Epidemics no matter how scary will happen. Wash your hands. Stock markets and economies will boom and bust. Store your treasures in heaven. Lots of heart, faith in God, good sense and commitment to each other will always get us through.
KEEP YOUR HEAD
Although Warren Buffet is not a man of religious belief, he has faith in common sense. So, I’ll end with an edited version of a Rudyard Kipling poem Buffet quoted in his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders letter from 2017, which could be applied to any calamity real or imagined.
If you can keep your head when
all about you are losing theirs …
If you can wait and not be tired
by waiting …
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim …
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you …
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.
Love, your Mum
This article first appeared in the 2020 Winter edition of Madonna magazine.