Below I look at something other than, well: money. Below, I look at the memory of a young woman and how she helped me get rich.
At Signals Matter, I write a lot about markets, about risk and reward, and profits too. These things are important, and markets do pose many psychological, historical and even mathematical puzzles that appeal to creative minds, minds that intuitively seek a kind of clarity, even fairness.
The Fed, for example: I don’t like it. It’s a false hero. I write a lot about it; nor do I like spin doctors –be they financial or political. So, I try to write about them as well, from false idols (think Elon…) to false balance sheets (think Amazon) to false connections (think Facebook).
In markets, as in life, we seek clarity. Simplicity. Perhaps, most of all, responsibility, which is, at essence, a sub-set of accountability, which in turn requires moments of occasional honesty, be it in the transparency of inflation reporting or the war on terror…
But in this briefest of all my blogs, I wanted to pause and examine something far more important: living.
Ironically, I’ve come to discover that we learn about living from dying, and this afternoon I spoke with the father of a young woman I adored who recently died from Cystic Fibrosis—a genetic disease that cuts lives short to a median age of 40. His perfect daughter never made it that far.
Not even close.
But she lived beautifully, and for a moment, my life was blessed to overlap with hers.
She always said she wanted to know a few themes before her spark went out. When we first met, she gave me a list, half of which she had already checked off.
The list. She wanted to be highly educated, that is wise beyond her own opinions; she wanted to be athletic, to master a sport; she wanted to be creative; artistic; she wanted to be professional, that is expert at something; she wanted to be sensual; she wanted to be a parent; she wanted to know love, including making love; and she wanted to embrace the full mess of life—“the raging sea” is what she called it.
Nowhere, on that list, however, did she ever say she wanted to be rich.
When I think of that list, and hold it now in my hand, I realize I have known each of those themes, and the raging sea too. Unlike her, I got to check all the boxes. And despite how messy (and at times painful) the water conditions to and from those boxes, I find myself feeling, well, very rich.
Money? I grew up with none of it, and then later, I’ve seen more than most, in ebbs and flows, like real friends vs false ones. I don’t deny or applaud this. Money makes life easier. This is true. But it doesn’t make us a penny richer.
Life, as Renoir wrote, is what we remember. And as for this beautiful young woman, I’ll remember her (and her list) more than anything the markets or money ever gave me.
I bet the same is true for the most of you.
Anyway, next week, I’ll get back to stocks, bonds and central banks.
But tonight, I’m going to give my daughter a call, take her to dinner, drink a martini and savor every moment of the other beautiful gifts in my life.