Man Plans and God Laughs

You can’t predict the stock market.  You can’t predict life either.

There is an old Yiddish adage that means “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”  There is one thing we can be certain of and that’s uncertainty.  We have to accept that as investors and we have to accept that as humans.  We can never know what is going to happen next.

I was reminded of the unpredictability of life whilst in the last week of our holiday.  My youngest sister is getting married on Saturday in Spain and we are here with my family enjoying the run up to the wedding.

My family is big – I have four siblings and between us we have 11 children aged 9 and under.  There is some degree of chaos when we all get together.  We are sharing a villa with my brother’s family and my parents.  The rest of the clan are in the villa next door which belongs to my sister.


On Tuesday morning Dad woke up and clearly wasn’t well.  It was decided that he needed to get to a hospital, quickly.  At the moment that Al was getting in the car to drive him to hospital we heard shouting from next door.  First shout was “we need a first aid kit”.  The second shout was ‘“Jake needs to get to hospital”. 

Jake is our 5-year-old.  We ran next door to find a lot of blood and a serious head injury.

Al hopped out of one car and into another with me and Jake.  We drove up the coast to the hospital.  My brother-in-law hopped into Dad’s car and drove him down the coast to a different hospital.

Jake needed 10 staples in the back of his head and Dad had suffered a stroke.  Jake is fine and Dad is now out of hospital and on the mend, though sadly will not be doing a speech at his youngest daughters’ wedding tomorrow.

You couldn’t have made it up.

There are always two ways to look at things.  We could say that was terrible timing – a stroke five days before a wedding.  Or we could say – thank goodness it happened when we were all together and could all support Dad and Mum.  Mum wasn’t left to figure it all out on her own and didn’t have to go home to an empty house.  We were all there and knew exactly what was going on. 

It’s the same with a falling stock market.  You can either say ‘what a disaster, I am losing money’.  Or you can say ‘great timing, I have some spare cash and can pick up some cheap shares.’ 

Carl Richards has this great drawing that explains life beautifully.  The line between ‘where you are’ and ‘where you are trying to go’ is not straight.  There is a natural ebb and flow to life.  It meanders much like a river and sometimes we can’t control the short-term undulations.