West Palm Journal: January 23

A great day until about 3. The water is warm, breakers are fun. When the tide ebbs in early afternoon you have to walk about thirty yards into the water before you reach at least five feet in depth, and that’s not as much fun. Scattered showers drive us in, so I catch up on email and some writing before dinner.

Dinner was at Café Boulud in the Brazilian Court Hotel. This is the chef who created Daniel, DB, and other great restaurants. Fabulous service through a beet salad, lobster risotto, short ribs, and rack of lamb. A very nice 2003 Pauillac accompanied. The general manager stopped by to ask about our experience in the New York restaurants and to let us know about a new one, Bar Boulud.

The Breakers is one of the most beautiful of all hotels, including its long drive to the porte cochere, and every night that the car takes us back from dinner I marvel at how fortunate we are. The inside is like a great European palace.

There are ups, and there are downs.

For a long time, a man in my online community has been forecasting economic downturns and chaos. Of course, if you predict anything long enough, it eventually happens (the Red Sox win the World Series, a woman and a black man compete for a party nomination, William Shatner turns into a fine character actor). Markets go up and down.

But this guy is a true zealot. His entire life is wound up in wave theories, and emotional support of debt, and other obscure and abstruse topics. Like any zealot, he must tell you everything he knows every time, complete with diagrams, graphs, and documentation.

So, of course, he made sure to contact me at this last downturn to tell me his predictions were correct about the market going into tough times. He is gleeful the way cynics are when the worst happens. He then went on to tell me that he had previously sold his house and all his assets, turning them into cash, and he was now waiting to buy others’ assets at rock bottom prices, since they could no longer afford to keep them or needed the money.

My belief is that we are all here to add value. We must contribute to the environment and society. Getting wealthy doing that (I write from my balcony at The Breakers) is perfectly fine. Choosing not to become wealthy in a conventional sense while doing that, is also quite fine.

But using resources to enrich yourself only while gaining through the suffering of others is appalling. I believe that spending your life tracking markets, or currency fluctuations, or oil futures merely to enrich yourself is one-dimensional, non-contributive, and simply boring.

Life is short. In tough economic times, we should be investing in ourselves and our businesses to provide more and more value to others, who are going to need it more and more. That’s a true exchange in my book, and then we derive the money which provides for real wealth: discretionary time.

I could be wrong, of course. I’m just a guy sitting at the beach.

The Beach
The beach

The Breakers
The breakers

One of the pools
One of the pools

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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