Everything is going great in the Oldham household. Christina and I are getting into a better sleep cycle after a lot of trial and error – we discovered that Teddy only enjoys resting on top of luxurious pillows. It feels weird being a dad but I am slowly figuring out my role; every morning I rock Teddy and listen to audiobooks – probably the best way to put a person to sleep. I thought that my reading goals would be threatened with a new baby, but I am getting back to my normal pace. My most recent book was What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan. This is a different book for me, but it was recommended by one of my favorite philosophers as one of the few non-charlatanic finance books. Essentially, those who are wealthy become wealthy through some combination of luck and skill. Some work harder than others while some get luckier than others. In all scenarios, there is a degree of egotism that impacts risk-taking. For example, take a trader who is having the year of his life. His trades never go wrong and he begins to feel more confident with his “patented strategies.” These strategies lead him to the deal of the century and he puts all his resources into one basket. Unsurprisingly, when the deal goes south, the trader convinces himself that he is right and everyone else is wrong – the final result is ruin and humility.
I want to extrapolate this scenario to all walks of life. Have you ever continued in a bad situation because of blind rationalization? Have you ever disregarded sound advice? Have you ever been too stubborn to admit defeat? I can say yes to all three. We are very good at subjectivism. Subjectivism is a flawed philosophy that argues that the “good life” is whatever an individual perceives as “good.” Put in another way, if I believe the best life is one of hoarding cat poop, then that is the best life, and no one can tell me otherwise. Subjectivism makes it very difficult for us to see that we are in a bad situation and we need to redirect. How can we fight this mental entrapment? I believe the quickest way to redirection is through prayer and advice. Seek out wisdom and you will find wisdom – if the advice is hard to hear then you are in the right spot; true loved ones will not enable you and they will help you see alternative perspectives. Don’t surround yourself by “Yes Men” – agreeance is only reasonable to a certain extent. The most successful people in the world are successful because of their luck, their hard work, and their ability to take criticism. There are much worse things to lose than a million dollars – a subjective life can lead to abusive relationships, anxiety, and a sense of isolation. Pray to God for truth, call that friend up who tells it how it is, and give yourself a long look in the mirror.
As of recent, I have been involved with an all consuming project that is sucking me dry of time and money. This occupation is the complete remodeling of my first home. I bought the house for 10,000 dollars and let’s just say it needed a crap ton of work. We had to put in new plumbing, new doors, new windows, new insulation, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, new paint, new furniture, new EVERYTHING!!! The project has ballooned into a beast that I brawl with on a daily basis. Some days I jab the beast but most days the beast punches me in the nuts. The beast has taken away one of my most precious possessions-time. Usually, I try to read two books a week and write subsequent posts; that has been extremely difficult and I feel saddened that I am deterred from my passion of knowledge. Thankfully, audiobooks were invented for these situations and I was able to listen to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville during these tumultuous weeks. To put it plainly, Moby-Dick is a masterpiece of writing and I would highly recommend listening to it on audiobook. The characters are brought to life in a way that traditional reading could never accomplish. I was able to hear the seamans’ accents, the pagans’ baritones, the shipmates’ whispers, and the fervor of Captain Ahab. The auditory reading of Ahab’s monologues will send shivers down your spine and really make you understand his obsession with the White Whale.
Ahab was a man on a mission. He could not eat, sleep, or spend one minute of his day without it being tainted with the thoughts of harpooning Moby-Dick. His pursuit of the whale was put at the highest priority and not money, family, or whale oil could deter him from his final goal. Moby-Dick was Ahab’s monster and in the end his vengeance sent him to a watery grave. It was quite fitting that I was reading Moby-Dick during what I felt was my own pursuit of a monster. I, like Ahab, could not think of anything but my project to a point where I was confused for a psychotic person. Stress, sadness, excitement, and a constant forward motion defined my everyday pursuit to “kill” my remodeling project. I was the Ahab of the land and I am still pursuing my whale. Hopefully, I will not let this project kill me but in all honestly it already has taken some of my philosophical beliefs. Before the project, I saw myself as a minimalist that followed Thoreau’s statement, “Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth.” Now, after spending thousands of dollars I ask myself what is it that I have bought and will this bring me happiness? The whale of consumerism has swallowed me and I have sunk far into it’s rotten gut. This defiling of my beliefs is a great learning moment and I never want to forget my struggle with this beast. Moby’s Manor will be finished soon but I will never be finished fighting the urge to constantly complicate my life with excess. Simplicity and knowledge need to hone my harpoon for the white whales of my future.