By Brad Thomason, CPA
There is a long tradition in philosophical writings, from all over the world, to use water as an analogy for focus and persistence. Even relentlessness, you could say.
Water is going to get as close to the earth’s center of gravity as it can. Period. You can’t stop it. You can slow it down, you can change its direction of travel, you can delay it in one place for a time. But left to its own devices, it is going to move along the line of gravity.
Water lacks the power to drill all the way through the crust, through the mantle, and down to the core. Essentially, the planet itself is the only thing that gets in the way of it reaching the center of gravity. As a result it accumulates in the low spots of the crust. Which we call oceans. The size of the oceans is testament to just how good water is at its job.
Water coming down a hillside will collect as a rivulet. Soon you have a small stream as the rivulets join each other. If the water meets a rock it will go around it or over it or dig the dirt out from under it and just roll the rock down the slope. But it won’t stop.
You can trap rainfall in a farm pond, say, in the middle of Iowa. At least until it evaporates, falls again as rainfall, and keeps doing so until it manages to land in a creek. Which runs to a river, which runs to the ocean.
Drop it on top of a mountain as snow, pack it into ice, and hold it there a million years as the base of a glacier? No problem. Glaciers move and break; or melt when climate changes comes along. Sooner or later, it’s back on its way to its goal.
Water adapts. Water plays the hand it’s dealt. Water never stops. Or at least it never loses the tendency to keep progressing toward the end, pretty much no matter what shows up to interfere.
As we close in on the midpoint of the year, it’s not an exaggeration to say that for the vast majority of us, this has been a year like no other. That is true if you have been trying to deal with personal finances and retirement matters. Doubly so if you also run your own business.
There have been a lot of impediments, a lot of diversions and occlusions, a lot of new factors to have to consider. The environment for analyzing data and making decisions feels very different right now than it has in the past. There is no shortage of stressors, new and old, coming at everyone. Progress may seem like something that’s quite off-the-table these days.
Water is still heading toward the gravity, though. And you are still heading for a time when your investment assets and other resources need to take care of your financial requirements, so that your time and effort don’t have to.
The path has been made to look very different. But the destination hasn’t changed. Just as water always finds a way to stay on-mission, we too need to seek ways to remember that the goal of our thoughts and efforts as financial managers is no different than it ever was, even if the terrain through which our path is flowing right now seems alien and daunting.
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