Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Surfing a bubble

I am not a surfer. I have never paddled on a board out in the ocean. I have never balanced on the pounding ice cold blue water as a wave crested behind me. I've never jumped a shark, nor have I come in contact with one. The idea of surfing is what drew me to my blog title. It has always been something I've wanted to do, but never have. It seems like surfers possess some kind of spiritual intelligence and depth even when speaking in two-syllable words. No, I am not a surfer as the physical and literal description of surfing describes. However, we are all riding the wave.

Economist call our economic downturns the popping of bubbles. When the stock market crashed in the 1920's it was a bubble. The technology stock collapse in the early 2000's, another bubble. The housing meltdown we are still all in the middle of? Once again another bubble. As if we blew them up with a child's bubble wand in our front yard. Or if we were chewing a wad of bubble yum gum. It gives us the feeling that we somehow control the outside forces of this so-called bubble. That we are all children playing. As if we could even blow up a bubble big enough to burst and cause such devastating ramifications. We were all so irrational. We should have known better. If we had just played with our toy guns and G.I. Joes instead of blowing bubbles as children maybe we wouldn't have these things happen to us. No these economic downturns are not fun and bubbly bubbles. They are waves. The force of them too strong to say that they were simply man-made irrational creations.

 This analogy always makes more sense to me. You see a bubble will always pop but to a child its results are harmless. We simply blow up another one. There are no dire consequences of it. We don't get spanked or yelled at. No one laughs at us or calls us names. It's simple physics. A bubble created by hot hair eventually pops. Yet it doesn't grow so massive as to cover entire cities with it's carnage. We don't hear about bubble yum damage to vehicles or houses. You can not die from a bubble. You can however drown from a wave. And every time our economy collapses due to a wave of economic force that is both created and natural people drown all the time.

You see a bubble is always going to pop, but some people are amazing surfers. The economy can collapse and they will still be riding their board. Some of these people even thrive in periods of intense misfortune for others. They've either been wise enough to ride on a smaller wave behind the gigantic wave everyone else swam up to, or they rode the wave before the fatal one and are already back on the beach drinking a Pina Colada. You see the wave is timing. You see other's on top of it and the water is incredibly inviting. It's calling you out. Maybe, just maybe I can ride the wave too you think. Maybe I am a natural. Of course a lot of people who die on this wave thinking they are naturals have never had a surfing lesson in their life. No one is a natural born surfer. If you jump on the wave in the mid force of it with no skills you will not be prepared when that wave collapses on you. Even the best surfers in the world die on waves.

Of course many of them don't. They time the wave perfectly. They feel the wind on their faces and the dampness in their hair as they master the water beneath their feet. The feeling must be incredible. To somehow balance on such a powerful force of nature that claims so many others year after year. And as they jump off their surfboard after an exhilarating ride and feel there truth could not be any clearer, they are greeted by a shark and eaten to death. Oh yeah they live in the ocean too. And whether you are a professional surfer or a novice lured into the wave, you taste all the same.

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