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Before Your Song Is Over

Warren Buffett wrote this in his 2000 letter to shareholders…

The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities—that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future—will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.

Buffett was talking about the irrationality he was seeing around during the heydays of the dotcom boom. What followed next i.e., the bust, is deeply etched in most investors’ memories who participated in that irrationality.

As I was reading this text from Buffett last night – thanks to my habit of reading and re-reading a small super-text each night before I sleep – I could relate this to the irrationality with which most of us live our lives, ignoring the beautiful things that happen around us while we race towards achieving name, fame, and of course, lot of money…

…because we hate to miss a single minute of this party and would rather postpone living for tomorrow, or “till age 40.”

As Seneca said –

There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.

“Oh no! Vishal is again getting philosophical!” you might wonder. Well, it’s Friday and you have a weekend coming up where you can spare some time to think over what you will read next, and thus this post that is not about stock market or investing.

Here is a poem written by child psychologist David L. Weatherford I read some years back and again recently. This is one of the few texts that led me to work towards changing my life, from one where I was deferring living for tomorrow to one where I try to live today as happily as possible.

I hope this poem also helps you in case you are looking for a similar change, or even otherwise.

Slow Dance
by David L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?

When you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a friendship die

Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi?”

You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race,
So take it slower.

Hear the music
Before your song is over.

What Do You Say?
As Buffett wrote in his letter…

…normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities…will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.

In this dancing room called ‘life’ too, the clocks have no hands and the singing and dancing can get over anytime.

So you better start hearing and enjoying the music now.

Give time to your loved ones. Give time to yourself.

Stop being so busy, and all this is possible. I can vouch for it.

What do you say?

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. R K Makhijani says:

    Hi Vishal, you’ve posted yet another excellent, thought provoking article for your lucky readers. You’re a very talented writer, but most important, you have wisdom far beyond your years!

    I’m sure this article will surely inspire many people to relook at the way they go through life, always in anticipation, without savouring the beauty and love that surrounds them.

  2. It was so refreshing to read this article.Made me pensive!Thorougly loved it.So much wisdom in here.This has been the highlight of my day.

  3. rakesh rathod says:

    Dear Vishal
    Thanks.Couldnt agree more to each and every word of yours.You even toughed me (age 40).Would try to take charge and Make change of my life and people around me as I agree we living for tomorrow and ignoring today.
    Thanks once again

  4. Dear Vishal, The Poem is very apt in today’s times. Each word rings so true. Thanks!

  5. Vishal – wonderful. I think in one way or the other you echoed my thoughts.. I really liked the poem, so apt it is.
    I recently wrote something very similar on my blog.. on building pauses in everyday life.

    Cheers, Harsha

  6. Vishal- read it, re-read it such gem of a post, instantly connects with the way we lead our life, I feel the globalization, competition and the urge to remain first in the rat race, has essentially stolen lot of things from us.
    We have lost connection with our past in a race to secure to our future.Nevertheless a well written post.

  7. Nitesh Agrawal says:

    WOW !! every word is true to core. Thanks Vishal for posting this.

  8. Reni George says:

    Dear Vishal

    Diwali greetings you and anshul

    As you know I have left being busy long time back,because it did not serve me any purpose as I was not enchanted with money more than the requirement and my requirement were always contained.That is the reason that I can find time to play football,go on a walk leisurely ….can go on a long walk or on a long ride.

    we take time to have the sip of tea with friends,mingle have a laugh together.This is all what is life about.

    Great Vishal
    Carry on

    Thanks and Regards

    Reni George

  9. Dear Vishal,

    Nice post. I do believe in slowing down your life and enjoy ur life with spending less and controlling your requirements and aspirations but the question is “DO YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT THESE KIND OF THINKING?” . This is a world of demanding family. If you slow down and try to give time to your family and if you are not able to meet their ever increasing demands, you will be in trouble too. so make sure before you do something to your life. You are not alone.

    Nihar

  10. Deepak Krishnan says:

    Hi Vishalbhai 🙂

    As the adage goes, “All great men were men of writing and reading”

    the list has one addition too 🙂

    thank you again for making it a wonderful read.

    best
    Deepak

  11. R K Chandrashekar says:

    Dear Vishal
    As someone rightly said, the past is history and the future a mystery, what is left is ‘ the present’, which is a gift of God, that’s why it’s called a present. So live in the ‘ Now’ . May the tribe of the ‘ Now’s increase!!

  12. Dear vishal ji,

    Thanks for the wonderful article. I recall in past also you had written something in line with this.
    Good stuff.

    I have one little problem. As it would be childishness of mine but anyways let me put. Again my reading & following of Swami ji / Swami Vivekananda (Swami ji & sh. Bhagwad Geeta say we shouldn’t depend on something outside for our pleasures & pleasure should come from inside, deep within. Sat chit anand & Nija anand) stops me from writing this but let me have your thoughts on this or how do u deal when you come under such condition.

    As you said in you passage I also share the same thoughts to an extent. Now I have slowed down my speed but the problem is now after slowing down I have ample time to spend and then when I turn to my relatives or friends they are busy in that rat race (red queen effect like S Bakshi sir says).

    So I don’t find anybody around to spend time with except my close family and my hobby pursuit.

    Its ok with me as we can’t change or we can super impose our idealogy on somebody else. If they love rat race be it.

    But sometime I feel monotony due to this as I feel I am the only one who last left the race ( which is my decision and I equally love it & have no second thought to it) & all are busy running with no result and only regrets at the end.

    Sometime the relatives & friends feel I am idle or don’t know how to run the race. But its ok, these opinions don’t bother me much.

    But one good thing happened due to leaving the rat race, I find a lot amount of free time which I can use on whatever things I want eg. Family marriages, seeing somebody at hospital, playing with kids on Sunday mornings, watching different travel channels).

    Regards,
    Kishor

  13. Very nice post, Vishal.

    Unlike most people, I’ve gone to the other extreme :). From childhood, I’ve always only done things that I was interested in and avoided those that I wasn’t. Even just before exams, you’d find me reading interesting chapters that weren’t in the syllabus for the exam. I avoid working on weekends or evenings. Whenever I switch jobs, I always take a month off to spend time with family and myself.

    That has recently caught up with me. My current job didn’t interest me. So I didn’t spend much time on it. So my company gave me the pink slip. I’m now on the lookout for an interesting job. Instead of feeling sad, I feel so much relieved. Better get fired then continue working on something you don’t like.

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