Prince Valiant stamp from the 1950s

In the upper-left corner of my work space, there's a panel from the Sunday cartoon saga Prince Valiant that I clipped and saved several years ago. Val is a Knight of the Round Table with a nearly 80-year comic strip history of death-defying battles interspersed by occasional moments of calm. Wise commentary isn't Val's forte. Still, during one particularly trying time he found the right words to rally his cohorts.

Prince Valiant speaks calmly to the growing tension: "Listen--I say the future is unborn. The past is dead and gone and holds no claim on us. There is only the here and now, and we are masters of this moment."

Val's words may sound trite, but boy are they relevant today as we lurch into a new era. It's a time that features Donald Trump settling in as president, Britain struggling with Brexit, business executives debating how to invest in a fluid economy, and millions of immigrants (some of whom work for you) trying to figure out whether to stay or go. Crazy times indeed.

Then again, we've always lived in uncertain times; they only become rosy in retrospect. And even generally accepted tough times aren't the same for everyone. As my father once told me when I started job-hunting during a Nixon-era economic tumble, "Just because everyone else is having a recession doesn't mean you have to be in one." Many of you must have heard the same message from your parents, because these past eight years have seen an impressive number of construction-related companies get started and grow markedly even as the Great Recession raged. Our recent Big50 ranks are full of firms that began when the days were darkest.

Truth is, even in this age in which so many Americans are so anxious about their prospects, housing starts are marching steadily upward and spending on remodeling is setting all-time records. The unemployment rate has dropped from its recession highs and wages for middle-class people have risen. Labor shortages are the norm. Fundamentally, we're sound.

The wacky times to come in Washington and on Wall Street will affect your life, but you can't let concerns over what's to come in those places paralyze you at home. While you might hate Donald Trump, there's no Wayback Machine you can jump into to change the past so that Hilary Clinton wins. And if you are hoping Trump will create the economic surge that he promised to deliver, I say: Don't bet all your chips on Trump's future performance; Congress and changing times could dash what plans he brings to the White House.

You can only live in the present tense, doing what you can do today for yourself, your family, and your business.