One of my favorite quotes of Henry David Thoreau is this:
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
That quote captures the spirit of “carpe diem”, seize the day - except the idea is to seize every day, every experience, every awakening, and every awareness. It’s following the human impulse to explore the unexplored, question what doesn’t ring true, dig beneath the surface of what you think you know to formulate your own reality, and embrace the inherent ‘now’ of life.
Earlier this week, a composer friend of mine asked me why I became a writer. And not in that ‘why did you leave banking to become a writer’ sort of way, deeper than that. I think we all embark upon circuitous life routes that, if we are paying attention, coalesce to move us ever closer to that thread that renders us authentically us by virtue of its consistent presence. We possess a core “self” with which we are most at peace, and around which we feel most natural. That self can have a tendency to hide, conform when it seems most comfortable or expedient to do so, cling to what’s ‘safe’ regardless of whether that safety is merely a manifestation of fear and not a grasping of a bolder life. Seeking eternity or clarity in a single moment is a way to be free of that fear. Liberated. It is never easy, but always spiritually rewarding.
I started writing as soon as I began reading, sooner if you count drawings. Kids don’t need to be told “write what you know”, it’s intrinsic. Everything we know is all we can imagine. We can envision the most complicated worlds and the simplest interactions between animals or people or objects without any filter. When you shove aside the noise, the infinity of ways to stay ‘plugged in’, the ugliness, the vapidity, you can experience a momentary clarity whose value can not be quantified. I moved on to mathematics and music and later banking, yet the pull to explore, to be guided by my curiosity, to find the story, to probe its elements, to tell the tale, remained a constant thread. The more I explore the less I know, but the more I want to know.
This year, I’ve traveled to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Beijing and Shanghai, and many cities in between, as well as throughout the United States. I’ve traveled on high speed railways over Chinese countryside, participated in anti-impeachment demonstration in Brazil and had numerous coffees with students and farmers and small business owners in Mexico. I fell a little bit in love with the essence of each new location and the people in it. Though I arrived to gather and share information and conduct interviews - I left with the knowledge that each discovery, personal connection and historical fact, became an extension of me and my story. I’ve met the most compelling people in my travels, and been blessed with an outstanding international team of researchers helping me.
For the month of August, I am going off grid to compose a 50,000-word narrative out of about 500,000 or 1,000,000 words of notes for the first half of my new book, Artisans of Money. The journey to this book, for which I spent time walking the Great Wall of China last month, as I did decades ago when I started in banking, showed me that traversing the same wall can invoke a tremendously altered perspective, not because of age, but due to a different and more open relationship with awareness and engagement.
The copy for the book so far says it’s about the rise of central bank power and control of money flow in the post-crisis era, or as I call it, the “Artisanal Money Era”, and how this influence pervades national and global economies and governments, and impacts ordinary people. But what I want to explore beneath that theme is the essence of how the world has changed. I want to delve into the motivations of the people and countries intrinsic to the largest shifts, as they repel and attract each other. I want to get to the core of who and what provokes the most critical transformations or clings to the status quo.
Everything is connected, not every connection is apparent. For me, behind them all, lies a saga that will uniquely capture my experience and analysis. By Labor Day, I hope to emerge with the first half of my book (because book deadlines are what they are) that centers on the US, Latin America and China, before moving on to travel and exploration for the second half which focuses on Japan, Europe with other places along the way. I look forward to foregoing every detail of the US election for a month. This US election - stripping away the name-calling, personality selling, and rhetoric - is (largely but not only) about two people trying to prove their authenticity to the public. I’ll take up writing about that this fall, as I also continue along the Artisans path.
Meanwhile, I will be convening with nature, notes, and that wonderful struggle of finding and telling the story.
Have a meaningful and inspirational August, my friends!