Letter 25: War
Tonight news broke that Russia has invaded Ukraine in what is a full scale invasion, a war of aggression. My mind has been meandering in a state of sadness, panic, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I like to write at times like this. It might help me, it might help others, it might help no-one. If you care to read the ramblings of a 33 year old that has never come close to experiencing war or any real adversity in his life, read on. I’ll make it about NFTs at least a bit because that’s the only topic I have even a remote semblance of authority to speak on, but this letter is not coming from an NFT ‘influencer’ or ‘thought leader’. It’s coming from a fellow human, nothing more.
It’s somewhat shameful to admit but when the news first broke my immediate reaction went to my bags. I checked the price of ETH, I checked the floors of many NFT projects. Call it human instinct to protect and preserve, to survive; or call it greed and selfishness. Perhaps both. I don’t think I am alone — this is a time of great uncertainty to a great many.
I basically have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, about anything at all. The war, the effect it will have on financial markets, how long it will last, what any resolutions might be, if/when markets will begin to recover, how much they’ll recover. I have no idea, and I doubt anyone really does. We can all make some somewhat educated guesses but the amount of information not known by most of us can fill an ocean.
So if we don’t, and can’t, know what is going to happen — what should we do?
Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Hug your loved ones. Eat a tub of ice cream. Run. Scream. Lift some weights. Meditate. Binge watch some TV. Donate to support Ukraine. Keep building. Have a drink. Tend to your garden. Crack jokes. Take another deep breath.
All this to say: life goes on.
There is literally nothing anyone can do to change the past, so lamenting about not taking more profits and wishing we rotated more ETH/NFTs into stables when ETH was at 2.9k or 3.5k or 4.8k is pointless.
What we can do, and should do, is use the past as a learning experience to hopefully better inform our future decisions. Take more profits next time. Keep your portfolio more appropriately balanced next time. And so on and so forth.
Moreover, the past can give perspective. It is very easy to lose sight of ‘the bigger picture’ when we’re in the midst of day to day life. Marred by the excitement of animal jpegs and dreams of present and future riches, we sometimes forget perspective. Days like today can help bring us back to reality.
I bet there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance taking place in the minds of many tonight. We want to feel sorry for ourselves that our portfolios have tanked 20%; but then we hate ourselves for feeling that way when we think about the war, and the “true” suffering taking place all around the world. It’s okay to be sad about number-go-down, and to also be sad about the war, and feel compassion for our brothers and sisters that are caught up in it. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
It’s okay to feel concerned that you decided to go all-in on ETH, Crypto and NFTs in January and now it feels like your whole world is falling apart. You probably shouldn’t have gone all-in on highly speculative assets, but the past cannot be changed. You can try and make different decisions going forward and learn from your experiences. That’s all we can ask for — to do and be better tomorrow than we were today and yesterday.
Two days ago someone reached out to me and asked for some words of advice because they had overleveraged themselves and every project they were in was tanking. I’m going to share my response here because they were eerily prescient and seem apt to tonight’s mood in the market:
To me, what's been most helpful is time, deep breaths, and zooming out. It's really easy to panic when you're in the weeds and in the thick of it all and watching the value of your portfolio crumble before your eyes. It's scary. I think it's important to try not to make any large decisions while in a state of panic (hard as it is), try to take a step back, and look at things from a holistic view. What's the worst case doomsday scenario if things keep crashing? Can you afford to keep food on the table and a roof over your head? If yes, then it's not the end of the world. Even if no, it's not the end of the world -- but you might want to consider selling, even at a big loss, if it means you can make ends meet. At the end of the day, try and think about what you can learn from this situation and these experiences to use 'next time'. The goal is not to make perfect decisions but to try and make better decisions tomorrow than we made today. We all make mistakes, i overleveraged and panicked a bunch of times on my journey to where i am at today -- it was stressful, and i lost sleep sometimes. I decided I didn't want to be in that position again, so changed my strategy going forward. Even then, i failed a few times, but eventually I got to a point where i felt more-or-less okay with how things were.
Deep breaths, and think about what you can learn, and apply in the future. Lastly, if you've got family, friends, your health, and a roof over your head, you're fine. If you've got no family, no friends, no health, no roof over your head, you're still fine. None of us need any of those things to be content, and happy, and to find peace. We have the capacity for all of that within us; as long as we have the ability to think, we have the ability to be content, and happy, even in the face of extreme adversity. At a certain point, money and jpegs just become noise -- but it might take some zooming out and perspective to see that
Millions of innocent humans have been thrust into the throws of war against their will. This is certainly not the first time this has happened, and sadly, it will not be the last.
Let’s spare a thought or a hundred for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Let’s also be easy on ourselves, and show compassion for one another.
Let those of us fortunate enough not to have to worry about a bomb obliterating our homes tonight take a moment to zoom out and appreciate what we have.
May you find peace if you’re reading these words. slava ukraini