April 5, 2000
now I'm feeling: Amazingly relieved and extremely
tired (I'll explain later)
Right now I'm listening
to: Ayumi Hamasaki -- Yet another great J-Pop
These days I'm still
Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. A kick-ass fantasy
novel, and The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan.
of the Day:
"What lies behind us and what lies before
us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
Money is the root
of all evil, so some say. It is also the root of great opportunity,
stress, fear, worry, hope and dreams. This night I have passed
through all of these stages within a few hours.
I am heavily invested in the stock market. Most of you probably
don't know that and maybe even some of my close college friends
don't even know that. This year, I've spent quite a bit of
time researching stocks, reading up on companies, some low-level
analysis and watching them. I love to watch the market. There
are sites on the internet where you can get streaming quotes;
two and three dimensional graphs of orders going through and
the prices of stocks going up and down. It's exciting. No,
seriously, it is (although saying out loud that watching blue
and red bar graphs on a computer screen is exciting, sounds
kind of stupid right now. The bitch of it is is that in
Japan, because of the time difference, the market is open
from about 10:30pm - 5am).
It has become an important part of my life.
I'm not sure I like that.
I have always prided myself on being a non-materialist. I
never really cared about what I did when I got older as long
as I liked to do it and wasn't in any risk of being poverty-striken.
But my ambitions have grown five-fold since I've been here
and I have dreams I dare not tell anyone for fear I'd be laughed
into silence at the absurdity of their scale. (No, I'm
not planning on taking over the world... at least not yet..)
I've been criticized
for my interest in the market. One person I know even said
it was "pathetic". I'm not sure if it was spoken out of ignorance,
understanding, or a different type of understanding
(and before you ask, no, I don't know what that means).
They think I'm wasting away my life, my youth, glued to a
computer screen scrambling to accumulate worthless (in
the grand scheme of things) paper notes which I can't
take with me when I die. And maybe they're right. Where do
we draw the line between enjoying the moment and preparing
for the future?
Over the past two weeks
the market has been in the crapper. I have watched myself
lose thousands upon thousands of dollars daily and there seems
to be no end in sight. Today the stock that I am most heavily
invested in took a 30% hit. Disastrous. Terrible. Unthinkable.
Better think of a new plan.
Actually, that was about three hours ago. Now the stocks are
back up and the scare is (relatively) over. People will remember
this day though, both the bulls and the bears, and it will
shake the faith of the masses in the power of the allmighty
But it was really quite an amazing thing to watch, from a
scientific and statistical viewpoint. It's interesting how
many stocks will turn either up or down, on a dime. Like a
flock of birds changing direction all at once for seemingly
no reason whatsoever. This trend becomes "the market". "Oh,
the market's up today," or "the market's down today". "Who
says?" "They do." "Oh."
Anyone out there ever hear of the Cluster Effect? It's a mathematical/physical
idea which theorizes that a random distribution of particles
or events will tend to "attract" eachother. I was thinking
of that today as I was watching all the great stocks of this
year head towards the negative 30% mark within a few hours.
It simply didn't make sense.
I was surprised to realize how my future became tied up with
money (yes, I know that everyone's future is, to a certain
extent, dependent upon money, but many of my ambitions depend
on the stock market doing well, so I guess that's a little
different ). Scenarios flashed through my mind of different
paths my life was taking, threads of the tapestry which would
never be woven.
I know of people who have lost all that they have (in the
stock market) in the past couple of weeks, it has been
Now that the market is out of today's crapper, my ambitions
take a turn. Just like the flock of birds, my thoughts and
hopes have changed because of some nearly-random event. Now
I know I don't like that at all, but I have come to accept
it to a certain degree.
Are any of us really
masters of our own destinies? Masters of our own futures?
Or is it all random or depend on external circumstances, which
for the most part are out of our control? "God, I hope I get
into Berkeley!" "I need this job, I hope the boss likes my
interview" "We need to sell more 'whatchamacallits', I hope
what's-his-name calls in for another order". I'm an existentialist
(for the most part, I still believe in God) and an
optimist, so I'm clinging to the hope that we are still in
control of our own lives. But not in the sense that we control
everything that happens to us, only what we happen to others.
I have to. I refuse to believe that all I am is a collection
of random events. How my circumstances are shaped may be by
things out of my control, but how I shape my life and myself
is damn well under my control.