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Of Sailing Ships and Distant Shores

I think I’ve told you that when I was younger, I wanted to go to sea; the feeling and desire persists to this very day. Unfortunately, a propensity towards motion sickness put a real damper on that dream. Homesickness probably was the final nail in that particular coffin for me.

But homesickness was an anchor I needed to escape, so I moved off to Salt Lake City for a decade and replaced homesickness with the joy of periodic homecomings. I enjoyed the mountains and the cold winters, and I worked like a manic to grow a business – a couple of million miles on Delta Airlines taught me to cope with motion sickness, but I’m sure it’s still parked deep in my stomach waiting to make itself known if I tempt seas too rough. So no, I’m still not going offshore, 90 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, to chase grouper. I’ll be content to have my friend Mike at Junior’s Fish Market toss them across the counter to me for my day’s catch, and they’re even filleted, to boot!

As to homesickness, it never did leave me after all.

I still make that half-second reach for the phone to call Mom or Dad when something jogs a memory; both gone over a decade now. The kids are grown and so busy, but we do find time; I wish it were more, but that is our chosen life. Be of good cheer, however, sadness is transient in these matters, and joy everlasting; we are, after all, people of faith, aren’t we?

As to the sea, though, when I hear Jimmy Buffet sing about One Particular Habour, I always grow wistful:

“And there’s that one particular harbour

Sheltered from the wind

Where the children play on the shore each day

And all are safe within”

Or even more so when Stephen Stills sings the opening lines from Southern Cross:

“Got out of town on a boat goin’ to Southern Islands

Sailing a reach before a followin’ sea

She was makin’ for the trades on the outside

And the downhill run to Papeete

Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas

We got eighty feet of the waterline nicely making way…”

Okay, I know; too many song lyrics. But perhaps you will get some sense of the visceral reaction I have when I hear those words and melodies. I can see the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, feel the warm winds, and taste the salt in the air. Can you hear the sails flapping and the seagulls crying as we sail to distant shores of white sands and palms blowing in the breeze, the young men diving for conch, and the young women making their way to market while balancing hand-woven baskets?

Ah, but then comes the doldrums. Our route takes us past the equator, and the winds die as the heat builds.

Thunderstorms come and batter us, but no fair winds blow to set us, once again, upon our course.

But I’m here to talk about investments and stuck in a metaphor, aren’t I?

So you feel your account balance has been in its own doldrums since the beginning of last year. Fair enough. We’ve no clear direction, and we are not “nicely making way,” are we? Oh yes, it’s much better than the market storms that seemed so unrelenting last year, but we do feel a bit without direction, don’t we?

Only because that is the truth of it for today, we must wait for the winds to fill the sails before the doldrums can be left behind.

The smartest thing written about the market which I have seen recently was this:

“The stock market depends on two important factors. Profits and interest rates.”

May the author forgive me for the lack of credit, but I cannot find where it was written or by whom. May the author doubly forgive me for adding my own statement to what is already implied: “All else is noise.”

So we stand at the helm watching and waiting for profits and lower rates, or perhaps tide and wind.

We remember those visions of full sails and splitting apart the deep blue sea as we make our way. Adventure lies at every turn and in every harbor. Like Cap’n Kidd, Blackbeard and Blue, Nelson, and more, the possibilities, confidence in our skills, and belief in tomorrow call to us. And that is why we stand fast, at the helm, and ever watchful.

We see yon horizon, reach out, grasp it, and bring it into the fold.

March 2023

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