It was exactly midnight, so (as Mercedes told me to do) I smashed the coconut in the middle of the West Side Highway.
Things are going to get better, I thought, when I saw the coconut all over the highway. It was March 2002. My second baby was born the night before.
On 9/11, I lived two blocks from the World Trade Center. During the Financial Crisis, I lived on Wall Street. I’m a bit tired of always living at “Ground Zero.”
For 15 years, I thought my self-worth was my net-worth. And everyone else had an agenda for me. I had been living my life upside down.
I listened to other people’s agendas for me. I never asked: “Who am I? Why am I? Why now?” because for a long time I couldn’t figure out the answers.
The above image shows the number of Google searches over the past year: Impeachment, Iran, unemployment, COVID, Floyd.
Iran was a blip. One day it was World War III. My kids asked, “Are we getting drafted?” My answer: “I hope so!”
But the next day… where did Iran go?
The impeachment hearings were a reality show with a bunch of old men. Very boring. Will there be another season?.
9/11. Financial crisis. It always seemed like the end of the world to me. My favorite drug became Klonopin for anxiety. I wanted to predict my future but couldn’t. I wanted to believe the psychic.
Things are uncertain now and humans hate that. We want answers!
But inquiry is more important than certainty. Ask questions. Who are you? Why are you? Why now?
When I was hitting bottom, a friend of mine — a venture capitalist — told me he owed all his success to a psychic. He gave me her address.
I went out to West New York by bus. I wandered around for hours until finding the psychic’s storefront. I saw people listening to music out of a beat-up car, playing dominos on the street in the middle of the day. Like a music video.
I wanted to move there, disappear, play dominos in the street with my new friends, never go back to my life again.
The psychic told me to throw a coconut in the middle of the West Side Highway at midnight.
I did. I smashed it.
A few months later I was worse off than I was. I never slept. I cried every day.
Asking, “Who am I? Why am I? And why now?” eventually helped me. But it was years before I started asking those questions.
Because people need to know things are going to get better. Because we survived this. Because fear is OK but now is the time to help others know that.
Because to be happier, you need to help others be happy. To be successful, help others find success. To find answers, help people ask questions.
I wish nothing bad ever happened to me. But maybe nothing bad ever has.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Farsai Chaikulngamdee.