top of page

[II] Gateways | Embracing a Corona Life Rather than Enduring a Cancelled Year


Marc J. Halsema, Managing Director and General Council with Pennington Partners & Co., New York

Marc J. Halsema is Managing Director and General Counsel with Pennington Partners & Co. in New York, a global private investment office and boutique strategic advisory firm in service to complex families and family offices around the world. He is also the first art collector who came to visit our art salons and purchased our artist’s work at their inauguration event in 2019. A couple of weeks ago, as we started discussing our newsletter series plan with people on our network, he was the first who spent a Saturday afternoon to draft down his gateway ideas for a Corona lifestyle and sent them to us. His letter filled with beautiful ideas, positive energy, aspiration for joy and kindness, and wise guidance for a well-structured life and career made us feel that the good life has never left us, and the self-quarantine never existed.

We are sharing Marc’s letter here with you in the second edition of our Newsletter Series, hoping that it will cheer you up as much as it does with us. Lawyers, bankers, accountants, Wall Street traders, and all our friends who earn their lives and reputation with ration, logic, rigor, and calculation are very often mistaken for being “cold-blooded” creatures. In reality, they can be big dreamers and idealists full of emotions, sensitivity, passion, and sense of humor. Coronavirus crisis is the best time for us to connect with each other through generosity, mutual understanding, and kindness. In the meantime we applaud for the brave healthcare workers who strive daily to save thousands of lives, let’s also remember to be kind and understanding to our accountant, lawyers, and bankers who work hard to protect our businesses.

While no one can possibly fathom, accurately know or authentically predict when the COVID-19 pandemic will wind down and life will return to normal – or a new normal gradually presents itself – looking ahead to the remainder of 2020, we can choose either to stand still or to leap forward as the world shifts beneath our feet.

I was on the phone with a colleague of mine in London earlier this week who shared with me that she has effectively written off 2020 and is waiting to see how the remainder of the year presents itself. After hanging up, I felt her words weigh on me like an anchor. Write off the next nine months of life? Fail to consider coloring outside the lines? Not take an imaginative approach to this strange bend in the road?

One of my favorite films of all time is Shawshank Redemption. Now is the perfect time to watch the film again or to discover it for the first time. Two memorable quotes from Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) stand out for me and capture what a remarkably engaging time in which we live now:

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

“I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”

I can only speak for myself, but I choose to live and embark on a new journey whose conclusion is uncertain because that is what makes life worth living. Rather than write off 2020, I choose to join Red and embrace the opportunity and the promise of the road ahead. April is just the first month of a new year with an abundance of hope.

Five pillars of life joyfully beckon my attention on this new New Years’ Month (April) 2020…


Virtual Art & Culture | A world of online art exhibitions, galleries and concerts awaits. Being quarantined does not necessarily equate to being marooned. There is so much art and culture to be enjoyed at the click of a key. Learn from the experts and create your own virtual experience to be shared with others on social media.