Please take this story seriously even though I’m writing with a light touch.
I am diagnosed bipolar.
Please, before you run to your DSM-V catalog of so-called mental disorders in order to figure out how to judge me without knowing me, I’d like to say that I mean I’m “bipolar” in the way an artist might use the word before I was born in 1952 and the first DSM came out (also in 1952).
What I mean is that I fluctuate between many states across many dimensions, often in response to external stimuli. People who don’t like to take responsibility for their actions insist on calling these things “triggers.” Because I don’t like to take responsibility for my actions any more than the next person, I’ll call them triggers too.
The book Living with a Creative Mind is the best (and probably only) book that talks about this in the way that I do. This survival guide for creative artists everywhere is co-authored by psychotherapist, Julie Crabtree, and her husband, Jeff Crabtree. As best as I can tell, while the DSM-V would have allowed her to diagnose him as bipolar, she decided that instead perhaps he is just a creative dude who sees things differently. They even created a collective for artists and therapists who have decided to stop judging each other and start loving each other.
In their book, they posit that while most people are mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually stable (i.e. stuck), creative people travel between polls across at least nine dimensions. They are:
- Ego: between Inflated and Deflated
- Attitude: between Confronting and Conforming
- Thought: between Fluid and Schematic
- Sense: between Skinless and Insulated
- Focus: between Wide Angle and Zoom
- Emotion: between Intense and Calm
- Energy: between Manic and Still
- Space: between Chaos and Order
- Action: between Risk and Safety
Now, you need to know something about me. I was raised by very intelligent well-read parents who fought in and survived WW II by being relentlessly rational, compassionate, just and persistent like nearly all their peers on our side. They raised me to be like them and to dream of a world at peace.
Then in low, middle, upper, undergrad and grad schools not only were those skills and dreams reinforced, I became pretty good the tools of deep thought commonly referred to as mathematics, the scientific method, data analysis, systems analysis and eventually finance.
Then I started what was essentially a hedge fund. For 18 years I made some incredibly wealthy people even double-incredibly wealthier. I didn’t do so bad either, in the ways that count, i.e. I supported my family and had fun doing it. And, I did no harm.
Now, for the umpteenth time, let me let mix cliche’s and pull the cat out of the hat for those too stupid to have figured out how I did it:
- Step 1: Figure out what is sane and human.
- Step 2: Identify insane or inhuman activities.
- Step 3: Provide liquidity for the insane and the inhuman.
For those not in the know, “providing liquidity” just means doing what people want you to do. I’ve never sold stock to someone who didn’t want to buy eagerly and was begging for a seller, nor have I ever bought stock from someone who wasn’t eager to sell. I’ve done this billions and billions of times over my career, and I’m proud of the provably true fact that I have never exploited a single person. And yet, I would have gladly exited the business and grown vegetables in my backyard had by some miracle the human race comes to its senses instead of bouncing insanely between the unholy poles of greed and fear.
To put this in context that might resonate for the current moment (14:11 UCT on 18 Mar 2020), imagine:
For some insane reason everyone decides that of all the problems in the world they will have to deal with, the most pressing is going to be running out of toilet paper.
You go to an antiques store and buy an old cloth diaper for 29 cents so you can keep your butt clean. You tear it in two – half for this year and half for next year in case the insanity lasts that long. This is called “establishing a hedge” against “this shit is real.”
Then you put manic effort into going to warehouses where they can’t ship toilet paper fast enough and you do them a favor by buying tons of the stuff so as to make room in their warehouse which keeps overflowing.
Then you sell the rolls one at a time at a ridiculous mark-up to people who call you a “lifesaver.”
Later, perhaps this year or next, everyone figures out the diaper trick and now the problem is a run on rags. And, a law has been passed that says that you are not allowed to store more than one ton of flammable material in your basement without both a sprinkler system and a halon fire extinguisher that requires advanced training to use.
So you start a toilet-paper-disposal service to remove tons of toilet paper for free and you sell each roll at a huge mark-up to the same people who need something to burn in the fireplaces that they bought out of fear that all other other sources of heat are going to fail.
See how it works? If not, then I need you to stop reading.
If you are still reading then you already know what I’m about to say:
It pays to keep your head.
If instead of that you want to argue with me about how some insanity is sane then you’d better come up with an interesting transaction to make it worthwhile, such as: “sell me toilet paper from my basement to burn in my fireplace.”
And, whatever you do, please don’t try to argue with me because I just might give you what you want. Of course, you run the risk that the next problem you might face is that I’ve learned how to have an argument the way philosophers do, which might be nothing like the way you think it should be done. What we both should fear is that I attack your insanity with reason and evidence and you mistake it for me attacking you. That’s not fun for you and it’s only fun for me if I don’t like you.
So, there you have it… My Trigger Warning: Insanity makes me manic, and if I put my manic energies into attacking your insanity, now that you know, you are responsible for my actions… not me.