Financial Life Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Creating the space for truth

I tried two new things this morning.  First, I turned on the cable show "Squawk Box" with the intention of trying to get through more than my typical thirty seconds before the screaming and overly dramatized flailing overwhelms me.  I am happy to report, that I lasted more than my normal allotment of over-zealous cacophony and lasted a full two minutes.  During which time, I heard, with soap-opera like histrionics, postulations about whether the economy can survive without the Fed's bond buying or whether we are heading for another cliff or whether company earnings can finally step up, because everyone knows that the earnings are based on unsustainable foundations.  Are you lost too? Yes, the babble droned on for the two minutes and I was able to reinforce, in my own mind, that there's greater sustainability in the ability of the talking heads on the screen than the market could ever hope to achieve.  In other words, the noise will continue-at least as long as their vocal chords hold up or the public catches wise that it all means exactly NOTHING. It is hyperbole at its best or worst.  If this happens-it that happens-when this occurs-when that occurs! Of course, there is no jeopardy in their words-they will not lose their jobs if the "information" they share with the eager public is incorrect.  That's it-they're like the people that report the weather. Ha!

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The second new experience was accomplished on the way to work this morning.  Normally, I have music accompanying my ride.  It could be a Mozart opera or Palma Violets depending on my mood.  But today, I turned the music off and opened the window and just listened and experienced the silence. It was freeing, instructive and a great reminder to just allow silence and eliminate the distractions.  I felt the wind on my face and heard the hum of the tires on the road.  Occasionally, ok, perhaps a little more than occasionally, I felt the bumps of the pot holes (yes, the ones that make New Jersey famous) shake the car and my spine.  I also felt the effect of turning the wheel on my body-it's a physics thing that I really don't understand all that well.  There was a wonderful sense of peace-time to think-time to just be; at least until I hit a red light and was audibly assaulted by the low bass rumblings coming out of the radio in the car next to me.  The thrumming was so loud and deep that I could feel the vibration into the back of my brain.  It actually hurt.  Thankfully, green light follows red.

Arriving at my office, I spent a few moments just reviewing what I experienced and what it really means.  I thought back to my Squawk Box experience and my ride, mostly sans noise on the way in.  Both experiences reinforced my belief that it is the noise that distracts us from what is really important, meaningful and beautiful.  The noise that assaults our brains and our bodies are worthless, in the scope of living a meaningful and rich life.  Our intellectual brain hears the "information" on the airwaves and deems it 'reasonable/true' or 'unreasonable/false' and because we're so smart, we act on those decisions.  When it comes to our money and our life-feeling rich is more about what you learn in the spaces between the noise-it's where gratitude, peace and even some plain old good thinking time occurs. Where the rubber hits the road is the point of real movement. It is not in the noise, not in the overly-analyzed vocalizations of the entertainment industry-it is where your values have room to become more than a fleeting thought.  Time to unplug, tune out and turn off the noise-wonderful moments exist where they have space to exist.

Michael F. Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Life Focus.

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