Invest, Young (Wo)Man!
Or: The Moral Imperative to Invest Wisely
n.b. Welcome to the fifty-seven people who have subscribed to White Noise since my last note on gratitude. If you have yet to do so, I invite you to visit my about page to understand the purpose of these writings and join nearly two thousand thoughtful, curious folks by subscribing here:
n.n.b. I am excited to share my newfound weapon for superhuman productivity: Heyday. Whenever I sit down to eke out another edition of White Noise, I am met with an unspeakable number of open tabs—many of which I have forgotten why I had open in the first place. Woe was this writer, but no more!
Thankfully, Heyday’s browser extension automatically saves all that I read and resurfaces it exactly when I need it—while pecking these very words.
I encourage you to check out Heyday not some day, but today.
Above: Horace Greeley is likely rolling in his grave.
I begin this piece with an excerpt from my last:
Fundamentally, we are here for other people. Life is about what we can give to our brothers and sisters, not what we can hoard to ourselves.
As human beings, we have a great deal to offer to one another.
Love—to heal the most vile of wounds.
Gratitude—to sustain the human condition.
Labor—to contribute a verse to the story that is life.
Suffering—to remind ourselves that we are not the center of the universe.
Each and every offering need not be so grandiose or abstract; whether a joke or a gesture, a laugh or a lark, bone marrow or belief, no gift is too small or trite when done in authentic service of another.
Economist Tyler Cowen articulated it more clearly and concisely than I ever could:
At critical moments in time, you can raise the aspirations of other people significantly, especially when they are relatively young, simply by suggesting they do something better or more ambitious than what they might have in mind. It costs you relatively little to do this, but the benefit to them, and to the broader world, may be enormous.
This is in fact one of the most valuable things you can do with your time and with your life.
Per the above, whatever action we take—no matter how magnificent or modest—compounds. Like the butterfly’s wing or the pond’s ripples, we know not the outsized impact our words and deeds might have.
Not to mention, once we set down a given path, we gain a small bit of momentum and tend to continue along this vector. These strings of action have a way of slowly but surely morphing into firmly ingrained habits that become the permanent fixtures of our everyday lives.
This is not mere conjecture, but codified law per the masterful work of Sir Isaac Newton. Put simply, objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion.
Over time, the doing of these very many small, seemingly insignificant actions—each one completed correctly and fully, time and again—adds up and compounds. Aphorisms allegedly from Zen Buddhism come to mind: “how you do anything is how you do everything,” “wherever you go, there you are,” and the like.
In this way, rather ironically, mundanity grows into magnificence. As Albert Einstein once said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it.”
Just as we might dollar cost average with our cents, so too can we—nay, do we—with our conduct. The price is the same; whether these actions become assets or liabilities falls squarely onto our shoulders.
As for me, I want to help people help people; to invest my time, treasure, and talents into others so that they might realize who they might become or what they could offer the world.
In this way, I view investing as no more than the allocation of assets in order to help people. Whether capital or compassion, belief or bullion, I have found that any genuine investment in another human being pays the handsomest dividends.
Though at the end of the game, the king, queen, and joker all go into the same box, you have an obligation to play the hell out of the hand you have been dealt.
And so, I exhort you: invest, young (wo)man! You know not the rewards that await you—and more importantly—those around you.
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,