Lehman Brothers: A Fairy Tale

The New York Times has made this fabulous video called “Wall Street: One Year Later” in honor of the one year “anniversary” of the fall of Lehman Brothers. Being interested in society, history and sentimentality, I was totally riveted by this video. The thing that struck me the most was watching all the people leave Lehman Brothers sobbing and flipping out. Obviously, they were crying because of what had happened to them personally, and could never have foreseen that a year later, the unemployment rate would be at 10 percent, entire industries would be disappearing, and Commerce Bank would be merging with TD North. (Seriously, as a creature of habit, I’m traumatized.)

I was also traumatized by the fall of Lehman Brothers, because it forced me to change my life plan. When I had first graduated college and was working in theater and hoping to someday be an actress or a “writer” (whatever the hell that means) I used to walk by the Lehman Brothers building and whisper under my breath, “Marry me, marry me, marry me, Lehman Brothers, please!”

It was mostly a joke. (As my friend C., who at the time worked for Bear Sterns pointed out, “your life isn’t funny. You deliberately write your life so it sounds funny.”) But it wasn’t totally a joke. I wanted to do one socially acceptable thing (marry a finance guy) so that I could lead the creative, alternative life I wanted. Doesn’t every banker want a wife who is a yoga teacher/blogger in clothes from 1972? Wouldn’t that just be a perfect balance for both of us?

I got over this fantasy though, and as soon as I had a job of my own, I became less interested in living the so-called artistic life, and had very little desire to marry–or speak to–an investment banker. (Unless he had capital to invest in our little start-up…)

Of course, as luck would have it, things changed. And in a very roundabout way, it turned out that Lehman Brothers did give me the life I wanted, but not by marrying me. I realized this when I ran into my cousin and his wife last week on my way MoMA to see the Water Lilies. They are both employed by one of those other investment-type places, have graduate degrees, and are pregnant (well, they’re not both pregnant, but whatever.)

Catching them up briefly on my life, I explained that I was becoming a yoga teacher, was desperately afraid that I’d never have another “real” job and was probably a disgrace to our entire family. “In short,” I scoffed. “My parents are absolutely thrilled and delighted that they bothered to send me to college.”

“First of all,” my cousin assured me. “You are not a disgrace to our family. Second of all, you’re not alone. There are a lot of people in your situation.”

I eyed him suspiciously. “People who went to college? And didn’t even slack off there?”

“Yes. This is the worst economic crisis in history. No offense, but even people who were a lot higher up than you are in your situation.”

“Ok.” I paused. “But if you hear of any jobs at [Investment Company], let me know. Or if you find me a potential rich husband…let me know. Basically, anyway you can figure out to get me health insurance, let me know about it.” They promised to keep their eyes peeled, and got on the bus.

Walking towards the museum, I suddenly remembered all those years back when I prayed for Lehman Brothers (any of them) to marry me so I could become a yoga teacher and a freelance writer without looking like a total F*ck up. Now, thanks to Lehman Brothers, I can be yoga teacher and a freelance writer like I always wanted and I just look like a realistic product of our times.

Someone was just telling me last night that we set ourselves goals as a way to move forward, but quite frequently, we’re not the same people we thought we were when we reach them. This isn’t a bad thing–because in becoming new people, we learn a lot and grow. We never would have changed if we hadn’t set the goal in the first place, but we should really focus on being mindful of how we behave while we’re on the path. If we pay attention to our goal-achieving behavior, we won’t feel as deceived or regretful if our destination doesn’t look the way we thought it would.

And that’s why this blog has no formal concluding sentence. Wasn’t the journey enough? Namaste.


2 thoughts on “Lehman Brothers: A Fairy Tale

  1. Who knew the corporate greed of others could cause your dreams to come true, albeit in a slightly fractured fairytale style (even if that's actually a good/better thing).

    Huzzah! All hail the Lehman Brothers for bringing at least one more yoga teacher (that we know of) into being!!

  2. “we set ourselves goals as a way to move forward, but quite frequently, we're not the same people we thought we were when we reach them.”

    I just read the same idea in a book, but the writer goes on to say that contrary to your conclusion, there's no way to avoid this. There's no way to know who we will be in the future.


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