Black Swans in life

Most of you in the financial circles know about Nassim Taleb’s best seller, ‘Black Swan’. It is a highly improbable event occurring in the financial markets. The banking crash and the Wall Street crash are examples of these which have come as financial “Black Swan’ and left many poor.

As I look at it, there are black swans lurking in the shadows of our own life. What we feel that it is almost impossible thing to happen can happen to anyone. When this black swan, the diagnosis of a disease like cancer or some other serious illness happens it can have a profound effect on both the physical and mental strength. While the financial black swan is likely to impact a large section of people and there is a feeling that you are one among the many who are affected. It’s a consolation in some way and you tend to try and recover from the mental shock.   The personal black swans affect an individual and the immediate family but they have a profound effect.

What do we do when the improbable thing happens?

Yes, your first question is “Why me??’’.

If it’s reversed – Why not you?? You are not the only one and there many even less fortunate women, children and youngsters who can be affected.

There is also denial that ”No nothing can happen to me. Breast lumps are neglected and many other symptoms too.

I think the sooner we come to terms with the reality the better it is for us to cope up with facts. Coping shows the inner strength of an individual and how balanced he or she is and how supportive the family is. Family and friends are the greatest strength and make all the difference

Recently, I was asked to see an elderly lady who was diagnosed with Ca colon. When I went in the evening she was all smiles. I said “How are you?” She said “I have cancer of the colon. Can you operate me now?” I said “Oh no, it is not how it works, it takes time to prepare and then operate but fine we will operate in the next couple of days.” She said “Fine, I just want to get rid of it and get on with my life. My grandchild’s birthday is next week and I cannot miss it” Lo and behold the lady was out of the ICU and literally walked out of surgery. Morning after surgery, normally patients have pain and complaints. Here is a lady who is smiling and saying I’m fine, I know there will be little pain and it is bearable. So it is all about attitude.
I have patients who are elderly who have great attitude towards illness and towards life in general and these are the people who bounce back from any procedure. On the other hand, those who are brooding, dissatisfied, definitely take longer time to recover. This is true of any illness or any other procedure. I think those who are lively and full of life are the ones who will quickly get on with their lives.

The only way we can handle the black swans is to Surround them with many white swans.