Grateful for Freedom to Choose

I have visited Niagara Falls several times. What a powerful show of nature. The falls are both inspiring and humbling as they remind us how tiny we are in this big world. One day while taking a formal tour of the falls, our guide pointed out how many people had gone over the falls in barrels and other contraptions. A young boy in our group raised his hand and asked, “Is it safe?” The guide thought for a moment then replied, “For half of them it was.”

Some days while reviewing the morning financial news, I begin to feel like I am facing Niagara Falls. There is so much information with countless options, each carrying potential risks and rewards.Like the little boy in our group, I often find myself wondering if it is safe.

“Safe,” is a relative word. Flying is safe, when compared to driving, but neither is as safe as staying home in bed. Yet many a person has left this life while lying in bed. Safety in life can be elusive so we each must weigh our options and make our decisions. Few people feel the need to challenge Niagara Falls, but investing is a risk most people are required to take. I have often said that the risk of investing is less than the risk of doing nothing. Regardless of our choice, we should seek as much information, or as skilled a guide as possible.

While flying home from Atlanta one day the plane encountered more than the usual turbulence. It was so rough that one of the flight attendants was thrown into the laps of three gentlemen in the seats in front of me. At that point some passengers behind me began to scream and others were looking frantically around for comfort.

I turned and looked out my window and thought on the situation. I am no stranger to turbulence. I am not afraid of it, but I still don’t like it. No pilot does. But in that moment I was reminded that Boeing builds their planes to handle far more turbulence than we were going through. I also knew the pilots up front, though not afraid of the rough ride, were working with ATC to find a way out of it. If such was not possible, I was still confident we would arrive safely at our destination. I was at peace because I understood and accepted the risks and rewards of flying.

On this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, I feel enormous gratitude for the freedom we Americans have to choose our own destinies. Some may choose to ride a barrel over dangerous falls while others prefer to enjoy the beauty from behind the safety fence. We each have our own comfort level with the turbulence of life. Every activity, or even non-activity carries its own risks, and we are free to make our own choice. What a blessed people we are and what gratitude we owe for such a privilege. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dan Wyson, CFP® is author of “The Gold Egg," and “21 Financial Myths” and owner of Wyson Financial/Wealth Management 375 E. Riverside Dr. St. George, UT 84790 - 435-986-9525 – Securities and Advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment advisor