Reserves (September 3)


Live full today, and let no pleasure pass untasted —
And no transient beauty scorn;
Fill well the storehouse of the soul’s delight
With the light of memory —
Who knows? Tomorrow may be —

WITH OUR EMOTIONS, AS WITH OUR MONEY, IT’S WISE TO KEEP SOME RESERVES READY. Admittedly, the point of life is not to see who can build the biggest savings account, and we do need to resist the hoarding instinct. Eventually, everything we acquire will need to be spent, but it’s rarely good to spend everything today, all at once. There may be times when that’s the very thing we should do, but usually, spending everything by impulse is foolish.

Think about this matter, first, with regard to money and material things. The person who spends everything he makes usually has to impose on other people to bail him out when an unexpected need arises. With no reserves, he has nothing with which to meet the crises that are bound to come up occasionally. And not only that, he has nothing with which to help other people when they’re in real need.

But think about this concept also with respect to things like physical strength and energy. It’s worth making the effort to eat, exercise, and rest in wise ways, so that the normal demands of daily living don’t take everything we’ve got. Not many weeks will go by that we’re not presented with an opportunity to do some worthy work that goes “beyond the call of duty.” Folks who have a little strength and energy in reserve are able to seize those opportunities. Others are not.

The meaning of life, then, is to spend and be spent, and the hoarding instinct is evil. So the wisdom of having reserves lies not in the mere act of saving, but in the chance it gives us to spend them later on things more valuable than the things we probably would have spent them on earlier. Holding reasonable reserves takes wisdom, to be sure, because it’s not always easy to know when to spend and when to save. But we need to avoid both problems: never spending our reserves on the one hand . . . and never having any reserves on the other!

“Economy: save money in one store so you can spend it in another” (Anonymous).

Gary Henry –