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Andy note: "Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from September 2011 . If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

I'm going to keep this short because I have no doubt that you'll be inundated with 9/11 remembrances all weekend. To say it changed all of our lives would be a gross understatement. The tragedy taught me a valuable lesson, though, and maybe it'll mean something to you as well.

I was living on the West Coast ten years ago, and my clock radio woke me up on the morning of 9/11. The normally goofy morning show guys were talking a mile a minute and I heard that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. They were saying it was probably a private plane and that there was no word on injuries or deaths yet. So I rolled over and turned on CNN. A couple minutes later I watched in horror as United 75 slammed into Tower 2. At first I thought it was a replay of the first crash. Then I realized the other tower was already burning and I'd just witnessed the worst terrorist attack in American history.

My first thought was for my boys at the NYBOT in building 4. They all made it out. The Cantor Fitzgerald crew wasn't so lucky. Almost 700 of them died that day, more than half the company.

I was at a point in my life where I was just coasting. I was 32 years old, I owned a company that bored me to tears, and lying next to me in bed was a woman I didn't love. The only passion in my life was a novel I'd just written that I was set to pitch to agents at a literary festival in New Orleans a couple weeks later.

I tore myself away from the TV after a couple hours and made my way to my office. My secretary was a mess, so I sent her home. And I sat there alone in my office and thought about what my life had become.

A business I hated.

A loveless marriage.

My only coping mechanism the bottle I crawled inside each night.

And I asked myself, "Is this what you want to be doing when some crazy asshole flies a plane into your building? Is this where you wanna be?"

Then I finally asked myself the real question:

"If you're not doing what you love enough to do it for the rest of your life, why the hell would you do it for one day longer?"

"You know you're not gonna be married to her for the rest of your life. Why are you wasting her time and yours? Why would you do it for one day longer?"

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't have an answer. There was no reason to do any of it for one day longer.

A couple weeks later I left my wife. I know that sounds harsh, but it was the best thing for both of us. With the exception of a couple of paintings and an '82 Dom Perignon Cuvée Rosé that had sentimental value to me, I gave her everything we had just to cushion the blow.

Over the next month I shut down my company. This was easier than it sounds, thanks to the recent repeal of Glass-Steagall. I was in the insurance business at the time and my largest carrier (who held roughly 85% of my business - another lesson learned the hard way) got burned trying to get into the mortgage racket and had to pull out of my state anyway. Rather than double down on a business I couldn't stand, I walked away.

Over the many times I'd visited New Orleans, I fell in love with the place. So I decided that would be home. I didn't know anyone there. I didn't have a job there. I didn't even have a place to live. But I threw what would fit in the back of my truck and a U-Haul trailer and just figured I'd make it work. My best friend was equally disillusioned with his life, so he decided to join me.

The rest, as they say, is history.

My point in all this is that crazy, sometimes evil, shit happens all the time. You never know if you're gonna get hit by a bus tomorrow, or some dickhead's gonna blow you up for something you had nothing to do with. You can't control that stuff.

What you can control is how you live your life. Please, guys, please don't waste it doing something you hate. I understand that you sometimes have to do something you hate for awhile in order to achieve something you're passionate about. That's another thing entirely, and sacrifice is a big part of success. But to just find yourself in a rut and do nothing about it is unacceptable.

If you're not doing something you love enough to do it the rest of your life, why would you do it for one day longer? Please don't waste your life. Every man dies. Not every man lives. Take risks. Love recklessly. The folks who went to work in those towers that morning 10 years ago would tell you the same thing.

In a New York minute everything can change.

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Comments (33)

  • MissingNo.'s picture

    You're making me reconsider this bowl of ramen I'm eating on hour three of my friday morning in the office at less than half the pay of most first year monkeys on here.

    Goddamnit.

    Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally.

  • In reply to manbearpig
    Banker88's picture

    manbearpig wrote:
    The greatest tragedy about 9/11 is that it was the catalyst for all of the devastation the US caused in the middle east.

    Good post Eddie. Sucks that you have to witness or experience a near-death experience in order to appreciate life a bit more every now and then. Happened to me one morning walking to school when I almost got hit by a cab.

    But the greatest tragedy is that our own government, at the very least, let this attack happen. Don't mean to start a 9/11 conspiracy argument here though.

  • In reply to Banker88
    manbearpig's picture

    Banker88 wrote:
    manbearpig wrote:
    The greatest tragedy about 9/11 is that it was the catalyst for all of the devastation the US caused in the middle east.

    Good post Eddie. Sucks that you have to witness or experience a near-death experience in order to appreciate life a bit more every now and then. Happened to me one morning walking to school when I almost got hit by a cab.

    But the greatest tragedy is that our own government, at the very least, let this attack happen. Don't mean to start a 9/11 conspiracy argument here though.

    I initially wrote that comment thinking the post was about something else. I changed it when I read the rest of the post. I stand by my comment, but I think it's not appropriate for this thread.

    -MBP

  • koske's picture

    Well written. +1

    Sometimes you have to endure a near death experience to realize what is of value to you. To re-evaluate your priorities, make a plan, and move forward.

    Interesting post, to say the least.

    - Cheers

    - Only time will tell....

  • tyrets's picture

    I watched everything that morning in gory detail. I wasn't doing what I loved. I worked at a friggin' gym. A high class, yuppie one, but a gym nonetheless. I saw the vice-chairman of Cantor Fitz that morning. I spoke with him, watched him leave only to never see him again. At 7 in the morning no one outside of Wall Street knew what Cantor was and by the next day everyone did. 658 people. Gone. I was wondering if the people jumping out of Tower 1 were the brokers I knew. I couldn't get the images out of my head for weeks.

    I took a year to learn about finance and trading. I bought every book I could find and talked to everyone I knew. People were giving money and giving blood all over the place. They didn't need my blood and I had no money to give, but I had a great skill set and I gave that to Cantor. I helped rebuild the company over four great years there.

    One of my proudest accomplishments.

    Rest In Peace The Cantor 658.

  • ST Monkey's picture

    Great post and I too share a similar experience as you did that morning. I am from the west coast and thought it was a prank those radio guys were doing. When I got to school (junior year in college), it was empty, all classes were canceled and that's when I realized shit just got real. I tried frantically calling my best friend at NYC to see if he's ok, but the lines were all jammed up. When I finally turn on the boob tube, I realized that we had just been attacked. My heart dropped when I saw the towers collapsed because my best friend was living and working 2 blocks away from WTC. Thank god he was at an interview in midtown when the attack took place, but I only found that out 10 hours after the attack.

    That day harden me as a person, I was no longer the free spirited person I used to be. I was filled with fear, hate, and revenge. Writing this comment and reliving that moment almost 10 years ago had me tearing up.

    This Sunday, I will be damn sure to live as a proud American and a finance professional (I love what I do by the way) to show these fucking asshole terrorist that we will not succumb to their barbaric attack tactics!!!!

    USA, S&T for life bitches!!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to MissingNo.
    TheWizeNut's picture

    MissingNo. wrote:
    You're making me reconsider this bowl of ramen I'm eating on hour three of my friday morning in the office at less than half the pay of most first year monkeys on here.

    Goddamnit.

    Including your signature line: "Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally."

    I am in the same situation and am torn between those 2 same lifestyles. My plan is make the good cash early (pre-35), live cheap and then use it invest in income based assets to fund the rest of my life.

    This plan makes sense to me because it satisfies financial freedom and not wasting my life from 9-5 (7-7 lately) for 30 years just so I can have a a lot of "stuff".

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    It just made me want to kill them back

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • Walkerr's picture

    Excellent post. Makes you reflect on life and what really matters. I remember that day. I came home from school (in Europe) and was watching tv. Every channel had the same images, the towers. I had never known about the WTCs at that point (i was young), apart from the two tall buildings in Friends.

    But good post by Eddie, and tyrets too.

  • mapr89's picture

    Best post I've ever read here. It's good that every once in a while we are reminded about the important things in life. When we only dedicate our lives to work and money, the most important things pass by and we don't even notice.