I remember one day in the 4th grade when I got sick and had to stay home from school. I played Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo all day and, for the first time, beat the game. I fireballed the shit out of Bowser and saved the Princess and felt really good about myself for about 5 minutes. After that, I never played Super Mario Brothers again. It was easy and easy was boring.
I also remember last Tuesday, when I sat down for lunch and took a peak at the news on my phone. I quickly lost interest in my green tea soba, scrambled for my laptop and tried to log into my FTX account, only to realize that a large chunk of my life savings was gone.
I remember consciously feeling in that moment that I was dreaming; I’d wake up any minute now and realize that my savings were intact, just as I had planned.
I was not dreaming.
Everyone goes through trauma. This is not that. Life that’s lost doesn’t come back. Health that’s lost usually doesn’t. With my life and health intact, I can make back money that’s lost. Perspective is important, and I haven’t lost that either. But to have your savings disappear in an instant hits hard, challenging our most primitive survival instincts.
The past few days I’ve been thinking about Super Mario Brothers and how it applies to my own life. It was easy and easy was boring, remember? I like to look at my life as my own Mario quest, and my vanished savings just upped the game from the easiest ‘beginner’ level to a more challenging–and by extension, fulfilling–one.
Here’s where my mind has been hovering the past few days:
1. Losing money that I was blessed enough to earn in the first place is already an enviable position to be in.
I can’t and won’t understate that point.
2. In a weird, I-may-be-delusional way, I feel a great sense of calm.
Given that I had earmarked that money basically for retirement, it’s pretty intangible at this moment. I have to remind myself that, by the time I would have ever touched it, I’ll have plenty of time to make up for the loss.
3. But fuck, $52,490 is a lot of money to lose in an instant.
4. I’m reflecting on all of the serendipity of my life that put me in the position to have had that money to begin with.
Luck is a very real part of life, but I tend to believe this balances out over the long term, for all of us.
5. Show me somebody who has only ever won and I’ll see a really, really uninteresting person.
It is going through the range of human experiences that makes our lives interesting. That makes us interesting. Range includes the unfortunate.
6. But damn, how many times have I looked at a restaurant, or a menu in that restaurant, and passed on something because it was expensive?
I could have funded that splurge for the rest of my life with 52 thousand bucks.
7. Stop bitching. People died this week. People lost loved ones this week. Shut the fuck up.
Besides, if you still had that money, you wouldn’t have ordered the foie gras anyways you cheapskate.
8. I lost $52,490 in a moment, and I feel generally optimistic and at peace.
There are a lot of people in this world, of all classes and statuses, who would gladly pay a hell of a lot more than that for the ability to remain content in the immediate aftermath of such a misfortune.
9. Read the last point again.
This is everything.
10. I’ve told people dozens of times that we aren’t defined by what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.
I earned the money, I made the decision to invest it where I did, and I also had the power not to make that decision. I haven’t lost agency. There’s a lesson in this–maybe a pricey one–but that lesson can pay off indefinitely. And I have full control over where I go from here.
I’m healthy with my full set of hearts and I’m ready to start fresh; my Super Mario world just leveled up. And that means it will be a lot more fun. #LFG