When the **** Hits the Fan

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The other day on TheStreet I hoped for a stock market crash.

That didn't sit well with a handful of readers. No surprise. Understandably, carnage makes people uneasy.

It's not like I was wishing for an earthquake. I fear the damn things. And, really, other than implementation of more seismically appropriate construction standards after the fact, not much, if any, good comes out of a tremor that does meaningful damage.

I dislike setbacks of almost any type as much as the next comfortable, self-entitled American.

That said, after you (not you!) get a grip, grab some context.

I don't like economic ruin. And it stinks when people lose their jobs. It's also sort of annoying to see CEOs catch raises while so many folks struggle. I have written articles and will likely write more lamenting the cold hard realities of life in an uncertain and increasingly unequal society.

It's all about perspective.

Speaking as an investor, I want a crash every once in a while and even more frequent corrections. Sure, people get hurt, but that's life. And life's events, good or bad, present opportunity to investors.

As with many endeavors, it takes time to evolve as an investor.

Maybe more than anything, that evolution consists of learning how to deal with emotions.

Psychologists can describe the scene with more precision, but think about those moments when the bottom falls out of the market. Think about how you react.

About 8 zillion things happen in your head over the course of less than a second. From there, you respond to your reactions. It's a bit like growing as a lover; the more adept you become as an investor, the better your ability to control your response to market stimuli.

At first, you have no control. As you gain control, you experience setbacks.

Case in point: The Apple ( AAPL) flash crash of Thursday, February 10, 2011.

I was long AAPL at that time via the stock and call options. In less than an hour, it dove from roughly $360 to about $349, taking the final legs down in minutes and seconds.

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