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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 32 one afternoon I sat on the edge of a chair by my father’s hos- pital bed, my hands resting on the chrome rail in an attitude of prayer. I said what I needed to say, never expecting any response from him. I sat there in the silence, feeling a little awkward. then, after a moment, my father took a wheezy breath to speak. I was not sure what he said, and—if these were to be his part- ing words—I really wanted to. I asked him to repeat. eyes still closed, he took a bigger, deeper breath. “plenty of money?” he asked again, this time annunciating his words as much as he could with his dentures removed. I could not believe it. my father was always looking out for his kin. “yes,” I said, smiling. “plenty of money.” he heard me all right and he pursed his lips into a small grin. those were the last words we spoke to each other. he died the next day. the global economy began to collapse almost immediately after he died, and sometimes I wish my father had lived so that he could have shored up his investments. he’d always had a sober, sound, anticipatory judgment. for years, in phone calls I’d barely understood—I was never that good with numbers— he’d told me that stock market prices were over-inflated and the price-per-earnings ratios were due to plummet. It was largely be- cause of his strategic market moves that the value of the invest- ments he left behind declined less so than those of many other people. staying away from companies he suspected of “cooking the books,” he never came within a million miles of bernard madoff and his ilk. like the good buddhist we all long to be, my father tapped into the power of mindful, focused attention on what he considered his own best qualities and, in doing so, demonstrated immeasurable compassion for his family—even though he would never have described it in such a way. there is enough for my mother to live on comfortably for the rest of her life, and a small amount for my brothers and me. that is, I won’t be quitting my job and retiring to a lovely, thatched-roof cottage anytime soon. my brothers and I will all still have to work for a living, and that’s exactly how he would have wanted it. at times I am thankful my father died when he did. If he’d had to watch much of his life’s work go down the drain as quick- ly as it did, he might have died from a broken heart. as it was, the cause of death listed on his death certificate was “failure to thrive.” my father spent most of his adult life devoted to the stock market, and its volatility over the past several years was hard on him. perhaps he’d simply had enough. he lived his early years through the Great depression of the 1930s and died at the very beginning of the world’s next large economic collapse. so in a way, his birth and death have a sort of symmetry, the arc of which shows that he did everything he could for his fam- ily’s financial well-being. We tend to spend our time wishing people would love us in the way we’d like them to, instead of simply accept- ing the kind of love they are capable of giving. With his investments intact when he died, my father left us believing his family would have the money he had worked so hard to earn, knowing too that we knew he had loved us as best he could in his own, inimitable way. ♦ Transforming Chaos & Conflict Strategies From the Art of War August 28-30, 2009 Learn how to apply leadership skills from Sun Tzu’s classic text to every aspect of your daily life. This workshop is led by James Gimian and Barry Boyce, authors of The Rules of Victory: How to Transform Chaos and Conflict, and translators of The Art of War: The Denma Translation. to every aspect of your daily life. James Gimian and OMEGA visit us at eOmega.org or call 800.944.1001 Rhinebeck, NY