Years ago I had a friend named Nicky, a good looking guy, who ran a successful hedge fund in New York. Like many hedge managers, Nick was young, full of confidence with a huge ego. He took big risks for his clients, had lots of luck and made lots money for his investor and himself. Nicky always drove a really nice sports car, owned a great apartment and showed up at all the best restaurants and parties wearing expensive clothes and always had a beautiful girlfriend. After more than a decade living the “good life” Nicky at age of 51 still believed that his success would last forever. But then overnight the markets turned and crashed. Nicky’s hedge became worthless, leaving him in shock. Nick did not sleep for days trying to figure out how to save his hedge fund. As a result of stress, fear and panic he ended up in the hospital with a heart attack. Years of drinking, partying and being overweight had in this crisis caught up with Nick. Things continued from bad to worse. Nicky soon lost his job and was forced to sell his expensive apartment and sports car and everything that made up Nicky’s identity was now gone. Nicky faced the cold hard realization that no matter how hard he wished or tried, his life would never go back to the way it was. He felt lost, alone, scared and empty. Nicky decided to leave New York move to a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness where as a young boy he had spent time with his father. Living in the wilderness was not easy at first. Tired, overweight and unhealthy and addicted to alcohol, Nick felt isolated and missed the city and thought about going back. But as time passed Nicky began to feel better and more at home with his simple cabin and the nature. Isolation gave Nicky time to reflect on his life. He spent his days reading, meditating and hiking. After a few weeks Nicky actually started to feel healthy happy and at peace for the first time in many years.
Nicky reflected on his old life and realized that the old life that he had clung onto so hard, really did not matter anymore. It all seemed like a distant memory. He did not miss his, home, car nor all the fair weather people he called friends. One morning as Nicky walked through the wilderness, he felt a wave of gratitude come over him. Nick felt grateful for the day the markets crashed and set his life free to bring him to this moment. Nicky realized that if fate had not intervened, he would never would have quit chasing money, and nice things. He knew he would have wasted his life.
Nicky’s story teaches us many things. Nick was a fearless hedge fund trader and did well. The day the markets crashed Nicky’s mind was shaken and he became for his life to return the way it was before the crash. Fear and panic overtook him and this landed him into the emergency room. As Nick lay in the emergency room believing he was dying, he realized at that moment, that nothing in his life or this world really mattered. All those things that were so important to him and he was previously holding onto, actually meant nothing. All the things that stressed him, the resentment he held towards others, his material possessions and ambitions were all inconsequential as he faced death.
Nicky became the happiest he ever was in his whole life, the day he lost everything and found himself, while self-isolated in cabin in the wilderness, living simply reading, exercising, and meditating and not worrying beyond the present moment. Nick learned the hard way of how attachment to his old life, led to to fear and panic. He realized that could not control his future. Everything like nature, had it season and was impermanent. And finally that when he truly let go, everything became, alright.
In a World that now faces uncertainty over Covid-19, with self and enforced isolation, and so much fear, panic and uncertainty we can consider Nicky’s story and what he discovered when facing similar circumstances. We can see how Nicky turned a negative situation into a positive, ultimately leading him to find happiness, himself and peace.