I was watching a movie the other day. It was called Too Big to Fail which is the story of how the US Treasury Department fought to avoid the collapse of our financial system back in the fall of 2008. The story was about how Henry Paulson, the then Secretary of the Treasury, and Tim Geithner, the Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve at the time, got Congress to bail out the major banks through a cash infusion. It was also the story of how Paulson and Geithner had to convince the banks to take this chunk of money that they supposedly did not want fearing too much government ownership and guidance in their operations. They took the money and seemed to have used to line their own pockets via bonuses rather than for the intended purposes of loaning it out to stimulate a recovery (but this is a topic for another much longer blog posting).
In one scene, Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, and another fellow were heading to one of a series of brutal all day meetings. Just before entering the building, the other fellow bemoaned having to endure another tortuous day "I don't think I can take another day of this." Lloyd Blankfein told the other fellow and I paraphrase, "You got into a Mercedes to go to the New York Federal Reserve, not a Higgins boat going to Omaha Beach."
That was the absolutely correct perspective. These were rich guys, financial lords of Wall Street, going to all day meetings with catered lunches and cushy surroundings. They were not being put in a dungeon and tortured.
Around mid September of 2008 my career was falling apart. Our entire management team was about to be and eventually axed. It was not because of the economy but more so because a new group president wanted his own crew in there. The US economy was about to fall apart and I was neck deep worrying about my own miserable little career. It was a bump in the road, not choppy seas taking me to Omaha Beach.
At such time, I should think of Blankfein’s words. I should also think of my maternal Grandmother, Azniv Frankian Merian who we always and affectionately called Grannie . She was born into a hard life in 1905 in a little Armenain village, Yeghike around the city that is now called Elazig, in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. At the age of ten, soldiers came to evacuate the villagers in a pretense of relocation for their own safety. It was to exile them into the Syrian desert to die of starvation. It was an ugly event which Raphael Lemkin labeled as Genocide.
My Grandmother survived. Neither she nor her Mother or sisters made the death march. They survived because their Turkish neighbor agreed to hide them. To survive she hid for days in the outhouse... the bottom of the outhouse... the stinking, disgusting, pit of the outhouse. She did this. She survived. She never forgot this though she only told me once. It made an impact on me. I think she told me that story that one time to give me a some perspective on things.
I need to remind myself that no matter how bad things seem to be, they are never as bad as they were for my grandmother when she was just ten years old. No matter what emotional corner I have painted myself into, it is not equivalent to what my Grandmother had to endure. And, I have to face it, as she survived she had it a lot better than those who died in the Dier el Zor desert or were shot, hanged, or drown en route to the desert.
It is matter of perspective. It is a matter of relativity. It is a matter of not taking things that are not that serious, too seriously.