Financial Shenanigans Should Have Trained Me For This

So there I was, caught in a bramble of sharp blackberry thorns coming from every direction. I’d been snagged first by the swooping thorn from high up that caught my hair, then by two more barbed branches that grabbed my pants and arm as I tried to retreat. Having left the house in an overconfident manner, thinking it was like any other day, I had no urgency to remember my phone, a sidearm or my small pruning shears to cut my way out. Cog was at work and there was no one for miles to hear me scream should the black bear come by for a late blackberry lunch.

Obviously I survived to tell the tale, but not without several important lessons learned which I would like to share with you all today.

Just as people save and invest for their retirement down the road, we seek to store our picked berries by jamming or freezing them for the winter months ahead. Like the banks and government agencies, there are many middle level workers whose job it is to tend to the ecosystem of blackberry growth who never intend to harm another. They are simply doing their job. The spider who resides in the berry patch and eats the smaller bugs which would decimate the berries was just doing what he does when he bit me.

In life it is not the sole fault of bank tellers or courthouse clerks that the systems of banking and government morphed into something we don’t want. Sure, these employees help hold up the system by working where they do, but no more than we ourselves support the beast with banking business to transact and payment of local tax and municipal bills. Like the aggressive bugs in the berry thickets, we ultimately all want to get through the performance of our respective roles there and fulfill our goals.

And as I was temporarily trapped in my blackberry situation, it struck me that my goal had been to obtain a valuable resource that seemed to be designed to be kept out of my reach, much like the gold in the world that is locked away. I was being detained from leaving with my hard earned berries, which I had invested my time and pain to obtain. The berry patch might as well have been Fort Knox at that point because any treasure on the premises was most certainly on lock down.

For purposes of analysis, how did I come to find myself being detained at the Berry Camp Facilities in the woods? Interestingly, the berries that appeared to be the biggest and juiciest, thereby giving the best return on my investment of scratches and lacerations, were strategically placed just beyond my wingspan. The obvious manufactured choices were to proceed at great risk or give up. I rejected those alternatives and proposed my own.

The best ones seem just always out of reach.
The best ones seem just always out of reach.

Being mindful of all the tentacles of the squid like thorn bush, I gently grabbed one branch to move another so the target berries were just within my reach. Yes, this is the part where I thought I was smart enough to game the system and beat the casino. Surely a smart cookie like me could accomplish something so simple.

And I did. For about the first ten berries my improved strategy of beating the system worked marvelously and my berry bucket filled a bit more. But as I reached for another berry cluster a sharp branch of a vine unexpectedly arched over and scratched my upper arm. I attempted to execute my stop-loss program, but in jerking away a larger branch poked through my pants and gouged my leg. At this point I jumped, dumping my whole portfolio on the ground while BAM! I'm grabbed by the mother of all thorn branches that promptly entangled my pony tail. Several new wounds were sustained while I resisted this arresting development. The desired future berry returns lay splattered on the forest floor. For a moment I considered crying.

I reached for my phone and realized it was still home on the kitchen counter. My heart rate quickened as I heard something bigger than a breadbox moving through the woods. Fear washed over me as I began to understand that things were NOT as I thought they were in the world, at least not today. To add insult to injury, it began raining before I could detach from my predicament.

Several minor injuries later, including many new split ends, I finally freed myself. Looking back at the berry bushes which had extracted their pound of flesh and a few strands of my hair to boot, a wave of embarrassment washed over me as it dawned on me this situation was entirely of my own making.

Wishing to assess my immediate losses I measured them in lost jars of jam and jelly, which is no way to count the value of my future. There was no way possible to reinvent today’s potential returns, as all the ripened berries were picked and lost. The markets were closed for the day and trading accounts settled.

In truth I had no business entering the dangerous environment without the proper tools and mindset. Even if it appeared inviting, easy and lucrative, it was a decision that had consequences deserving of much more attention beforehand. Indeed, entering a forest unprepared where hungry bears primarily dine upon the very wild berries I collect might be just as foolish as trying to trade stocks for one’s retirement in a completely rigged market.

Of course there is always the option to take only the berries that are readily available, rather than reaching for the proverbial gold. In this way, there may be a few less berries in the winter months, but the poison sumac contracted while retreating through the rear of the briar patch won’t leave that blistering itchy rash either.

Berries, bonds or bullion, it all comes down to correctly assessing risk, considering all the consequences and being settled with whatever is decided.

Interesting tidbit: the black bear population of the state of Virginia is currently estimated at 17,000.
Interesting tidbit: the black bear population of the state of Virginia is currently estimated at 17,000.
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One thought on “Financial Shenanigans Should Have Trained Me For This”

  1. Mrs. Cog, what an adventure, and so well told.
    I loved the analogy laced through the telling.
    We evaluate risk & proceed as decided. Such a fine line between opportunity and greed.
    Don’t get me wrong, I accuse NOT of greed with the prospect of jam in the winter as the days reward.

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