A wintry mix of metaphors

I’ll admit it.

I don’t really understand why people writing about the economy and investing resort to temperature and weather-related metaphors to describe credit freezes and stock market meltdowns.

But they do, so I feel compelled to join in.

I grew up in south Alabama where even on the coldest days, the temperature rarely stayed below freezing during any 24-hour period. I did not see a snow-covered ground until I was 18 years old.

Perhaps that’s why I’m still in awe of winter. I’ve discovered that cold weather makes me feel alive. I don’t fear it or avoid it. I enjoy it — but only when it’s an every now-and-then thing.

I would never choose to live in a cold place.

double diamond

Avoiding the cold is a dream of many people. That’s why, when you visit Florida, you’ll find that most of the people are from somewhere else — places where it’s cold and frozen lots of the time.

Most people don’t like to be in frozen places.

We’re at a frozen place right now — or, at least a place where people are freezing in front of their computer screens or CNBC or wherever it is where they discover just how bad the stock market has fallen since the previous time they checked. Even people who don’t invest seem frozen. And those who do, man, is it a cold outside. Last night, I was with several friends who, if this were ordinary times, would have been discussing two things: sports and politics. Our hometown college and NFL football teams are undefeated. The MLB playoffs were kicking off. We’re a few weeks away from a Presidential election. Yet the talk was completely focused on one thing: the frozen credit market and the continuing stock market crash. These people were feeling it. Big time.

People don’t like this cold and dark place. I don’t like it. I didn’t grow up in a place where this kind of thing happens.

But I do know something from going through some macro and micro economic swings that have included a journey or two through some very dark and frozen places. If you don’t fear or avoid the cold — if you stop being numb and accept the challenge and journey through it — you’ll discover a feeling that is like the one you have when you’ve found yourself on a double black-diamond run — when you’re only a blue-run skiier. Scared to death and desperately wanting to be anywhere but here — but strangely alive.

Focus on that alive feeling, and you’ll have wits to survive the run.

You can do it.

Don’t let the fear freeze you.

Bonus link: How cheap are stocks? (from the NYTimes.com’s Economix blog.)