Planting Cherry Trees

After the market rallied nearly 11% on Monday, it dropped 1.5% yesterday, and another 9.3% today.  Given that I manage money for a living, and am experiencing this manic market firsthand, I find myself somewhat sympathetic to stories of folks stuffing their money under a mattress.

I think that taking a moment to be kind to ourselves is probably in order.  In fact, curling up for a quick nap on that mattress under which we are thinking of stuffing our money might not be a bad idea.

But then what?

Do we really liquidate all our positions, and sit entirely in cash?

Lonecherrytree

Last week, a CNBC reporter asked a money manager what he thought the market would do this week. He didn't say up or down, but wondered aloud if we shouldn't all take the proverbial ‘time out', given that everyone, including money managers, seemed to be succumbing to fear.

A frustrated, and no doubt exhausted reporter, launched into a Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson-worthy harangue — “You need to tell us the truth. The people deserve to know the truth.”

But, in this instance, the truth, was, and is — we, those who invest, decide the truth.

Will the market drop precipitously?

If we stuff all of our money under the mattress, the market will drop.

Will it surge?

If we invest, the market will go up.

We decide.

Cherryblossoms
Source:  istockphoto

I recently heard private equity investor Bob Gay make two statements that were meaningful to me when the market was 35% higher.  They are even more meaningful today, and have, in fact, become my professional watchwords.

First, paraphrasing economist John Maynard Keynes, he said, “The social object of investment is to defeat fear.”

Second, “We must have the courage to take limited means, and to invest in and encourage others…”

Said more pithily, and paraphrasing western colonizer Brigham Young, we need to “keep planting cherry trees.”

Singlecherryblossom
Source:  istockphoto

Should we throw caution to the wind?

Of course not.

But should we stop investing? Planting cherry trees? No.

Because if we do it will begin to affect everything we do and are.

And not just us, our children too.

Said Sarah Ban Breathnach “Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities.  It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend.”

We decide.

Cherries
Source:  istockphoto

So yes, the market's bad, and yes, we're scared.

We still must decide which ‘secret garden' we'll tend.

Do we continue to invest in and encourage others?

To plant cherry trees?

To dream?

Dare we not?

P.S. Over the past few weeks, both at work, and at home, I've started making a daily list of what I'm grateful for — an informal gratitude journal in hopes that I can tend the ‘garden of gratitude.'

What if Madeleine L’Engle Hadn’t Dared to Dream?

You have something that IT has not. This something is your only weapon. But you must find it for yourself. Mrs. Which, A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle.

One of my beloved childhood books was A Wrinkle in Time. In re-reading the below passage from Ms. L'Engle's memoir A Circle of Quiet, I couldn't help but wonder, what if she had given up on her ambition, if she hadn't dared to dream?

She writes:

I am often asked how I came to write A Wrinkle in Time.

Even with all the hindsight of which I am capable I can't quite explain it. It was during a time of transition. We had sold the store, were leaving the safe, small world of the village, and going back to the city and the theatre.

While we were on our ten-week camping trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back again, we drove through a world of deserts and buttes and leafless mountains, wholly new and alien to me. And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs. Whatsit. Mrs. Who. Mrs. Which.

But why did those names come to me just then, and from where? I haven't the faintest idea. I suppose that my writing mind, which is always at work no matter what is happening on the surface level, took over from there. I had brought along some…Einstein, a few other books on cosmology…and…the influence of these books on Wrinkle is obvious. I was also quite consciously writing my own affirmation of a universe which is created by a power of love.

After an early rejection (there were many), “X turned down Wrinkle…saying he loved it, but didn't quite dare do it, as it isn't really classifiable. I know it isn't classifiable, and am wondering if I'll have to go through the usual hell with this that I seem to go through with everything I write…

[and yet] this book I'm sure of. If I've ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it. This is my psalm of praise….

…In 1963 (c. three years after the above entry), when I was in Chicago to receive the Newberry Medal for A Wrinkle in Time, a woman who was a fine editor…but who had rejected Wrinkle, said to me, “I know I should have published this book. But I wonder: if I had accepted A Wrinkle in Time, would it have been the right moment for it? If it had been published then, maybe you wouldn't be here now….”

She was a very wise woman.

Madeleine_lengle

1. Are you in a time of transition, a “bleak period of your life” as L'Engle describes the period during which she wrote Wrinkle?

2. What activities are you involved in, what books are you reading, that could be furthering your dream?

3. Are you in the unknown right now? How does it feel?

4. If your dream is facing rejection after rejection, is it possible that the timing is not yet right?

5. When you tell your story, in whatever form it takes, what beliefs will you be affirming?

6. For those of you that have read A Wrinkle in Time, think for a moment about protagonist Meg Murry and how her journey parallels that of Psyche's: Meg willingly undertakes a journey fraught with danger so as to find her father.

7. If you don't dare to dream, what gift to the world that only you can give, might not be given?


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