December 12, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

Plan B: Doing Business in Interesting Times 

“Blow up your TV,

Throw away your paper.”

For the second time since the U.S. presidential elections last month, the headlines in the newspapers I used to read online each morning and now just glance at were about something other than the bleak and growing bleaker world economic news. Nothing like a terrorist bombing — Mumbai — or a historic bunfight in our own House of Commons to take our collective mind off the gut wrenching, rollercoaster rides Wall Street and Bay Street have become. With stock market charts looking more like an EKG of a patient being defibbed, evaporating consumer confidence, governments the world over singing the deficit blues and economists throwing up their hands as though practicing the wave, what’s a poor ski bum waiting for the depths of depression to be replaced by the depths of powder to do?

There’s not enough sand around here to stick your head in — and if there is, let me know where — but I am mindful of my experience on that sunny, late summer day in 2001. September 11 dawned crisp and golden in Cariboo land. Eagles circled, fish jumped and the phone unexpectedly rang early in the morning.

“Turn on your TV,” an excited friend screamed from the other end.

“No TV here,” I replied.

As she explained the drama unfolding in New York it simply seemed unreal in contrast to the peaceful sameness playing out in front of my eyes. I listened periodically, in growing bewilderment, to the radio reports during the day but it was over a week before I saw the images of melting World Trade towers. Living a media-lite life offered me a pass on that episode of global angst.

Surprisingly, when I had a chance to compare my reaction to it with the reactions of friends who’d sat transfixed to the TV screen as it played out again and again, I realized I’d avoided making a substantial withdrawal from my peace of mind account at the karma bank. I was considerably less traumatized than they were.

Blow up your TV.

Willful ignorance isn’t the worst approach you can take to the current global financial crisis. Knowing more about what’s going on isn’t necessarily going to change your strategy for dealing with it, if indeed one can be said to have a strategy for dealing with something one can’t possibly fathom.

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