“[My company’s $137 billion cash pile] isn’t all that huge when you think about worst-case possibilities.”
-Warren Buffet in May, 2020
When I was thirteen, I wanted happiness to be something I could hunt and catch and nail up on the wall. I wanted it to be achievable, to be permanent: aha, I have it now, and have it forever. Of course it doesn’t work that way, but sometimes I still want that kind of certainty. That kind of safety. I imagine a rock that’s huge enough to lift me above the rush and crash of changing waves. I imagine a castle with unbreakable walls. In the last months, I’ve sometimes felt the urge to stockpile food and lock my door and be safe, alone, behind it. I’ve imagined having. Then I look outside the window, I feel the door and realize it’s only a little piece of decaying wood. I started volunteering more.
I wonder if Warren Buffet’s right, at least in a way. On the one hand, $137 billion is more than I can conceptualize. (I’ve been trying. I still can’t. It sounds a lot like $136 billion, except the difference between those two is more than all the wealth of all the people I’ve ever met who are “wealthy”). On the other hand, maybe $137 billion isn’t “all that huge when you think about the worse-case possibilities,” at least not if you mean as a wall against a pandemic and global climate change and, let’s say, a revolution. It probably isn’t enough.
I wonder if having is a madman’s game.
The doors of power and privilege are stronger, but I don’t think they’re unbreakable. I don’t think anyone can lift themselves, forever and ‘safely,’ above their community. You can’t build that science fiction city above the clouds. Trying to collect that much works for a while, we’ve seen that, but perhaps we’ve also seen that it won’t work forever. And perhaps that way lies madness, and cruelty. If we give up the fantasy of having, of bulwarks big enough to “protect someone” from the worst-case scenarios of what might happen, then we’re back living in what happens. Back seeing everyone as touched and effected, hurt and healed, supported and unsupported and (when they choose to help) supporting. Instead of trying to stack apples back behind our walls, we’re back caring for trees. For each other. For ground, water, and what we all are together.