“Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” is an age old, well-worn piece of advice. My father first remembered it when his mother sent him to fetch fresh eggs from a neighbor, circa 1919. I used the phrase often, in a far less literal manner, during the years I worked as a personal financial planner. It actually made its first appearance in the early 1600s as Miguel de Cervantes wrote the masterpiece, Don Quixote.
The advice has proven its value throughout the years as US stock markets and banking institutions endured several severe downturns since 1929. In the early months of 2020, retirees may have wondered why invest in anything other than Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)? Prices were soaring, and many dividends were being increased. Today, with values for REITs down by roughly 25% from their heights and with many dividends suspended or eliminated, it is easy to be thankful that retirement eggs were spread among various industries. The application reaches far beyond our finances.
The danger is to overreact to negative situations. According to the Associated Press, older Americans have lost some of their retirement nest egg (it really is not necessarily lost, but that is another subject), and younger generations have lost current income and job opportunities. There are voices offering dire warnings of a looming disastrous, unimaginable catastrophe, from which we may be saved only if we purchase the answer found within their video series. Daily we can learn of a new group of physicians, economists, politicians, educators, or other group urging the world economy to be brought to a full stop in order to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We can go to any length to protect our eggs, but at what cost? As the photo accompanying this post shows, we can create a cocoon for our egg. We can gather enough plastic straws, rubber bands, glue, and flexible tubing to hide an egg from sight, but will it protect the egg from all risks? Wrapped up in this way, the egg is of no use at all. It cannot bring a new chicken to life or provide food to a human being. There are many forces in life that would still cause the egg to break, even in this unsightly cocoon.
Our lives, our gifts, our personalities, our talents, and even our savings are of no value if we wrap them up in a cocoon attempting to protect them from every risk of life. As Bob Russell, retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky recently wrote, “I know people my age who went four months without seeing or hugging their grandkids even though they live just minutes away. Why? To avoid getting Covid-19. But is that really living?”
As we continue to face risks during the remainder of 2020 and into the future, we urge everyone, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That is wise. However, never forget that our lives and our savings are to be USED. We are merely stewards of the life, talent, ability, and savings with which God has blessed us. Opening our lives to risk will sometimes make us uncomfortable. Not doing so robs us of the joy God desires to share in our lives through interacting with others. Here is to living a full life, a life that involves risks in order to be the life God desires and promises for us.