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  • Wes Rutledge

So Dad, How Can I Make Some Sense Today? – Part 1

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

Yes, this is a question I’ve been posed in various ways these past couple days by my young adult children and my friends. Probably much more telling – it’s the question I, myself, am praying. At first blush, it might sound as if I’m pleading with my own deceased dad to answer my question. For so many years it was exactly the conversation I had with him. What wisdom and comfort does he have to offer me? Not so ironically, as a practicing Catholic, if I perhaps substitute “Father” for “Dad”, it’s the same question I pose to Him. So Father, How Can I Make Some Sense Today?

As I sit here reflecting, I’m led to the same responses. Over the coming days, I’m going to try to collect their wisdom, mix in some of my own, and share them with you. Sure, I know we all want the answers – some answers – concerning what to do. And we want as many as we can get, as fast as we can get them. But the first answer that I feel they have shared with me (and I now share with you) is to calm myself.

How hard is that?! The markets are falling, jumping, twisting. Every time I turn on any of my electronic devices, something is being cancelled, delayed, restricted and quarantined. The grocery has become a battle ground, and other spots have a “ghost town” feel. Chaos seems to be everywhere, and yet we are trying to keep it contained so that our healthcare professionals can treat all our true needs. Calm myself – yes, that’s what I need – and I’ve felt like this before.

Growing up, I was a swimmer. I spent a lot of time in the water. I wasn’t a champion swimmer of any sort – but I spent so much time in the water that I was (am) very comfortable and respectful in it. The thing about water (and this analogy) is that water requires the exact same reactions as this chaotic time.

One time I was windsurfing and fell off the board. “Windsurfing” was really a stretch that day, as there was hardly a breeze. Nevertheless, I found myself in the water and trapped under the sail. The sail had so much water on it that it was too heavy, and I couldn’t push it off me. I was trapped under it. Panic was starting to set in. Adrenalin was starting to surge. Fight or flight – I didn’t care which – I just needed out of there. My heart started racing, and my body was consuming the very precious oxygen that I needed to survive at a frenzied pace. But that’s when my training as a swimmer kicked in, and I took control of my situation. Calm myself. Conserve my oxygen and slow my heart rate. Think about my situation instead of just reacting and panicking. Logic needed to be found, and I remembered that the sail was seven feet wide at its widest points. Calm myself – if I move two arm distances away from where I am, I should find the sails’ edge. I’m here typing, so you know the rest of the story.

As I sit here today in Coronavirus chaos, the first bit of wisdom I have to pass along is the same wisdom both my dad and my Father have shared with me (along with my swimming instructors) – calm myself – and try to apply logic to my situation instead of just reacting to it. Oh great! That’s just great! But what am I supposed to do? The Dow Jones Average is down 2,300 points! I’m drowning here. Do I sell? Do I buy? How can I keep watching this? And yet the wisdom I pray for is still the same. Calm myself – then start looking to apply some logic. That’s my first step. Tomorrow, I’ll post the next step of what to do – when I’m calmer. Thanks for checking in with me, I look forward to our chat tomorrow.

Side note: In Chapter 1 of my book “So Dad, How Can I Make Dollars & Sense?” I began telling my story by recalling the early days of my career. I started within the first 6 months of the crash of 1987. I also worked through the Y2K bubble burst and the Great Recession of 2007/2008. If you want to skip ahead and look for some more answers, you might want to pick up a copy. There might be a few insights in there that’ll help you.

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