Now that 2008 is in our rearview mirror, I can't help but be reminded of my worst blind date, when the lady fondly told me, "Don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out!" As I've learned over the years, life can be very interesting from time to time. I think all of us would agree that 2008 was certainly an interesting year. After all, it's not often that a year is compared to one of the most notorious years in our country's history--1929. Did I mention that interesting doesn't necessarily mean good interesting?
Throughout the past year, I often wondered whether the world was going through a bad karma or bad biorhythm cycle. I know I was. For me, the year started with a cancer scare and the beginning of the end of an 18-year marriage. It also meant trying to find a new job in a wobbly financial services industry. The only major life stressor that didn't hit me in 2008 was death -- and you can be sure I was swiveling my head looking out for that one.
As the year went on, I slowly but surely began to reassemble the apple cart of my life. While I still have some apples to pick up, I have made progress. Watching the financial world implode certainly didn't help. Nor did it help watching my 401(k) become a 201(k). But as Grandma Miller used to tell me, "If life knocks you down, you'd better get your butt up and keep moving or you'll get buried." Did I mention Grandma Miller was a drinker?
The more I looked around, though, the more I realized I wasn't the only one going through a tough time. All around me I saw friends in the financial services business watching the companies they'd worked for disappear in front of their very eyes. Lost in the smoke were pensions and accumulated company stock that many were counting on to pay for their children's college. Yeah, I wasn't the only one who took a punch.
Given the unforeseen woes we endured, I'm amazed at the resilience and attitude of my fellow punching bags. So far, I haven't seen anyone jumping off the rooftop or slitting his or her wrists. Watching others handle their own crises has helped me better handle mine. Could there possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel? We might have to turn off the glow of CNBC to see it, but I think it is there.
We are entering a historical time. Whether you're a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, you can't help but see that our country is at a turning point. A new president is about to take the reins. And with this changing of the guard comes something many of us haven't had in a while -- hope. Hope that this financial crisis is beginning to end. Hope that the value of our homes has stopped dropping. Hope that our jobs have become more stable. And hope that we can all start going about the business of dusting ourselves off and getting back at it.
We've all heard the saying that as one door closes, another opens. Speaking for myself, I can't wait to slam the door shut on 2008 and open the door to 2009. I will open it cautiously, but I will also open it with hope.
But before I move on to the future, I need to acknowledge the past. More than any other year I can remember, this year needed some type of closure. Writing this particular column has given me that closure and saved me about $3,050 of psychiatrist's fees.
For those of you who were hoping for a touch of humor in this column, I apologize. I promise that next month's column will be chock full of its normal quota of slightly amusing chuckles.
To each and every one of you I wish a happy, healthy and hopeful 2009!
Once a mildly amusing comedian, Bill Miller now works as a recruiter for a top independent broker-dealer; reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.