Timeless Investment Wisdom

I recently finished reading The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It definitely has a strong spiritual undertone set in an era when this was sorely lacking (1920s and 1930s, although the hard times of that period brought spirituality more to the forefront). There was one particular passage in which the protagonist Elliott is describing the wonders of Hinduism to Maugham that I couldn’t help but think of how applicable it is to investing.

“Can there be anything more stupendous than the conception that the universe has no beginning and no end, but passes everlastingly from growth to equilibrium, from equilibrium to decline, from decline to dissolution, from dissolution to growth, and so on to all eternity?”

Bruce Springsteen said in Atlantic City, “Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” There is no permanence. Something that is successful today could be gone tomorrow, a business that seemingly has no hope could be the superstar of the future (e.g. Apple). Once we can accept that change is the only constant and that stability can sow the seeds of instability and chaos can generate the regenerative stardust of future growth and new creation, then we’ll be able to enjoy the ride more than we otherwise would and hopefully use this flexible mindset to our advantage.

Homer said that “the latest song, fresh from the singer’s lips, has most appeal to men.” It’s important that we not be seduced by the siren song of the supposed uniqueness of the times we’re living in or its permanence if we want to be successful investors and live happy and joyful lives.

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