“I think maybe you have cancer.” Max said to me. “Or you are planning on killing yourself sometime in the next week or so?” I laughed (because if you can’t laugh about cancer and suicide what can you laugh about?) and asked how come he asks that. “I’ve been enjoying your blog,” he said, “and its like one of those things where someone is saying, ‘I need to get this off my chest before I die’. “
We sat down for lunch. I haven’t seen Max in almost three years. He used to live across the street from me but then everything went to hell and even neighbors on the periphery of my marriage’s gravitational pull were flung out into the galaxy. Max is an expert on alcohol. He wrote the excellent book, “Chasing the White Dog” about the history of moonshine. I’m sure when he was in third grade and the teacher was making the kids go around the classroom saying what they wanted to be when they grew up it probably went something like this. “I want to be an astronaut.” , “I want to be President.” , “I want to be a doctor.” , “I want to be the world’s foremost expert on alcohol.”
The teacher: “uhhhh, Max. Like beer? Or wine?”
Max: “no, only 150 proof alcohol made illegally in someone’s basement.” Suffice to say, his book is excellent. So when Max asks me if I’m about to kill myself, I have to strongly wonder if its true, since I’m sure he’s seen a lot of pain and agony in his research and he might see something here that I don’t.
Someone else commented on this blog a few days ago, “sir, please don’t kill yourself. Life is too good.” So two comments now make a trend.
The funny thing is, for the first time in years, I’m starting to appreciate life more than ever.
I’ve taken a break from lying. I’m been in four industries in the past 17 years. Entertainment, Tech entrepreneurship, Finance (hedge funds), and Financial Media. I calculated the other day I’ve been told at least 10,000 lies. And that doesn’t count the BS I read every day on financial blogs. I had Bernie Madoff reject investing in my fund because he didn’t want to take any “reputation risk”. Some front group for Yasser Arafat (“our investors are all big institutions”) once invested in a company I started. Someone yesterday told me, “George Soros will invest in my business but only after you do.” In LA, everyone tells me, “we love you.” I’ve had people in every industry ask me for bribes in order to throw business my way (and sometimes I’ve paid). I’ve been blackmailed at least twice (once unsuccessfully). 90% of the hedge funds I’ve ever invested in have lied to me at some point (I’m now invested in zero hedge funds). I’ve had clients, investors, potential clients, in every single industry at some point tell me, “you’re my best friend.”
Exercise for the day: starting with the newspapers and blogs you read: count the number of times you’ve been lied to today. I bet the number comes to at least 30. Try it.
I’m not saying dealing with lying is bad. Each lie puts a little more metal in your armor. You’re like a knight about to go into battle. You need your armor or else a sharp arrow will kill you. The lies build you up, protect you, even on occasion become weapons for you. But if you fall off your horse then it gets ugly. Your armor is so heavy you can’t move. So you either flat on the ground until you die from thirst. Or some enemy errant knight sees you and slices your head off. And your life was too short.
“Life is too short”
I don’t believe that and I don’t think anyone really believes that. Life doesn’t seem that short to me. For me life is very very long. I remember every day of it. My earliest memory is getting kicked out of nursery school when all of my friends and I were playing a game where we piled on top of each other with me on the top. And then I went to the bathroom. Number two. I can still hear the “Ewwww!” from all the kids underneath me. I was alive.
Maybe the biggest lie then is the one we tell ourselves of our immortality. If I’m alive today, I’ll probably be alive tomorrow, hence immortality. So if we lie today, no big deal, we can tell the truth tomorrow. Pretty soon our conversations get crowded with lies. After eight years of writing about stocks (and 95% of public companies lie about their numbers) I’m sick of it.
So I don’t have cancer. I just feel like saying what’s on my mind for awhile. Giving it a chance. I’m in the bathtub and I’ve slit my wrists all over WordPress. And I am still alive.