With the passage of time, I realize more and more how little I know. Gone are my younger days, when I was convinced that I knew it all. The years roll on and prove to me, over and over again, that I still have much to learn.
I’ve long thought of what I don’t know as the Pacific Ocean and what I do know - let’s call this my areas of competence - as a chain of islands dotting its surface. It makes me feel like an ant contemplating the cosmos. Compared to what Plato called the body of all knowledge - my own knowledge is next to nothing. Frankly, it 's a daunting feeling. However, time has graciously continued to teach me a variety of lessons. Owing to this, I’m beginning to view things through a far more optimistic lens.
For example, Hawaii is a chain of islands that supports an extraordinary diversity of people and geography. It is small only compared to much larger things like the ocean or the continents. Compared to the ocean an island is small and compared to the cosmos so am I. To this I now say, so what. Our lives are not great or disappointing because we conquered the cosmos. We consider our lives well lived because we have achieved a majority of our desired outcomes. Or at least a majority of the ones most important to us.
I think that most of us actually have an awful lot of useful knowledge and information at our disposal. Warren Buffet likes to say “I’m smart in spots and I tend to hang around those spots.” So it is with us all. We are all quite smart, in spots.
Some of our knowledge is fairly basic and was passed to us by our parents and grandparents: eat your veggies, don’t smoke, exercise and look both ways before crossing the street. Other parts of our knowledge base is much more specific and frequently related to our vocation be it farming, medicine, education, health care, manufacturing, construction etc.
From time to time, we have all read about some child prodigy who graduated from Harvard at 16 and became a neurosurgeon. These people are undoubtedly smart but would you hire one to build an addition on your home or finish your basement? Probably not. Why? Because it is simply not what they do. What I do know is that there are a good number of people in virtually every field who can do what we need them to do. All we have to do is call them. As a father of four, one of my desired outcomes is planning for my children’s educations, while teaching and protecting them to the extent that I can in the here and now. Another is saving and investing for the future, so that my wife and I can enjoy our lives today without suffering lack in our later years.
This kind of planning is not what most people do for a living. If you are considering adding dormers to your attic, you would likely consult a contractor. In the same way, it may be a good idea to speak with an investment advisor who you trust about creating a financial mosaic that may help you to achieve those kinds of goals.
I like to end these posts with a positive and proactive sentiment such as “Plan and take action.” While they are certainly words to live by, in this case I’ll alter them to- Take action, by formulating a plan!
Scott McGimpsey June 14th, 2016
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