This Is What It Means
Hopes and fears
And chasing dreams
This is what it means
Smiles and cries
And making memories
This is what it means…
–Jim Woods, “What It Means”
There’s an old saying in the literary world that a man’s life is incomplete until he has tasted love, poverty and war.
Beginning with the latter, my closest brush came in January 1991. I was just graduating from the U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, when the bombs began raining down on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As it turned out, that conflict was so short-lived that I missed out on the active war leg of the complete life.
As for poverty, well, although I come from a modest middle-class American family, I would hardly say that qualifies as poverty by global standards. And aside from some lean, post-college days working at the financial newspaper Investor’s Business Daily, I also would have to say that poverty mostly has eluded me.
When it comes to love, I think this is where I’ve more than made up for any deficit in the other two complete life components.
Love of family, friends, career, music, literature, philosophy, nature, fitness, sport, combat and, perhaps most of all, love of learning. These are the animating forces at the core of my being.
That love runs particularly deep when talking about the love I have for helping investors better understand — and better profit from — the financial markets. In fact, you might say that this love is a form of war on poverty itself… the poverty of knowledge that keeps investors paralyzed into subpar performance.
Ironically, my love for this pursuit also encompasses my own desire to be a complete man.
In Ayn Rand’s magnum opus “Atlas Shrugged” (in my opinion the very best novel ever written), one of the heroes of the novel is asked, “…what’s the most depraved type of human being?”
The answer: “The man without a purpose.”
This notion stuck with me as a guiding principle when I first read the novel as a 20-year-old trying to sort out the world. And ever since digesting this pithy profundity, I have set my life with “purpose” as a primary directive.
In The Deep Woods, my purpose is to shine a more luminous intellectual light on the issues that matter most to me, and that hopefully resonate with you. Sometimes those issues are economic, sometimes they’re social, sometimes they’re philosophic and sometimes they’re political.
Yet, every time, the issues are of personal importance to me, and achieving a better understanding of them is my purpose. And if you are reading this, I hope sharing my purpose with you has helped you better understand your purpose.
Together, we can learn, grow, flourish and allow the very best within us to express itself — and we’ll do it all while having fun! Because when it comes down to it, hopes, fears, dreams, smiles and cries and making memories is really what it all means.
So, thank you for your time, attention and trust. I shall always value, cherish and respect them, and I will endeavor to always make this column worthy of you.
O. Henry Wisdom
“If a person has lived through war, poverty and love, he has lived a full life.”
It should come as no surprise that the great short story writer O. Henry is one of my literary favorites. And yes, he is the fountainhead of the above notion, and by extension, the progenitor of the ideas I hold regarding love, poverty and war. If you want to expend some of your limited time wisely, grant the great O. Henry your attention.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
In the name of the best within us,