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Seasonal Reflection

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       12-24-2001        High      Low     Volume Advance/Decline
DJIA    10035.30 -  0.00 10072.90 10034.40  443 mln   1742/1200	
NASDAQ   1944.40 -  1.40  1953.90  1942.07  555 mln   1786/1653
S&P 100   585.19 -  1.22   587.33   585.18   totals   3528/2853
S&P 500  1144.65 -  0.24  1147.83  1144.62           
RUS 2000  485.81 +  1.79   485.93   483.54
DJ TRANS 2605.57 +  0.34  2609.37  2588.25
VIX        23.23 -  0.08    23.67    22.79
Put/Call Ratio      0.54

Seasonal Reflection
Austin Passamonte

I have a confession to make: not once today did I ever look at a stock chart. To tell the truth, I never even thought about it much. Oh I know, the markets were open for a bit and I'm sure CNBC filled their slots with junior reporters and heaven knows what type of verbal fluff between commercials.

There was a time in my career when I'd be glued to the screens so long as squiggling lines moved across their charts. Oh how I resented weekends and holidays for interrupting the flow of money in (and sometimes out) of my account! More than a once I gave serious thought to exploring foreign markets and currencies where the action never seems to end.

But time has a way of passing, mellowing all it touches. This is the first Christmas season Wendy & I have spent apart in the twelve years we've been together. Twelve years? Gosh almighty where did they go? I remember 1990 like it was yesterday. Two young kids who thought they knew it all but didn't have a clue. Little money but lots of fun, that's for sure. Seems like times with more money are spent having too little fun, or is it just me who notices that tradeoff?

Nope, never even dialed up any charts today. Took my beloved Springer Spaniel out for a run today, or should I say walk. Eleven years ago Madison was just a wild, squirming bundle of raw energy Wendy coaxed me into fetching home. Many antics that dog pulled brought laughter, tears and sometimes both. In the decade since she's become much more than a pet... dare I say family?

But the circle of life slows for no one and aged joints racked with arthritis have changed her world. No more dashing through tall grass fields or eastern woodlands flushing game and while fulfilling her genes. Eyes wild, tongue lolling while her coat is covered in stickers and mud are merely pictures in the distant part of my memory. We cover distance together much slower now, across level ground and smooth surfaces to her chagrin.

And my daughter is eighteen? Living on her own, driving a car and much more responsible at that age than I remember being myself. Is it possible? I've got pictures that show me changing diapers and her first steps across the room. How can this young lady I now see be the same image at all?

But it's true. It's all true. Just a flicker ago I was eighteen years old. A few seconds later I met Wendy and in a minute or two my dog was merely a pup. But time marches on, the circle of life inevitable and inescapable.

How did life begin here on earth? Everyone has their own belief. Why are we here? No one can really say. What should we do while we're here? That one's easy for me.

We should laugh and we should cry. We should enjoy incredible happiness and unspeakable pain. We should experience all the world has to offer and grow in spirit from this. We should work hard to leave the world a better place than the one we have today. We should focus on giving back more to the earth than we take from it, lest we never forget that it's the only planet we've got.

We should go out of our way to help a fellow man. We should be blind to accents, language and color. By the grace of our Maker I am me, you are you and they are themselves. We are all living within the only body we have and it was given to us as a gift. No one chose to be who they are: we simply rise up and walk from there. Is it fair to discriminate against another for a choice they didn't have or make?

We should balance our lives in moderation. I'm so very thankful that the market is my living but it's merely a means, not the end. My mind belongs to work, my heart to those I love and my spirit to the essence of life. If that balance was tilted before, time has a way of correcting things too.

When consumed by work and worldly pressures around me I often pause to reflect and ask for whom the reward shall be? Is the purpose of trading to merely trade more? Will success reflected by money offer freedom or enslavement? Will freedom of time and responsibility increase or diminish? What will more time spent in the markets bring me: more time doing what I choose, or more time indentured doing that which I must?

Above all we should love and be loved. Cherish the time with those in our lives while we can. Life is a finite gift: it will not last forever. My 37 years have been a mere blip and somehow I wonder if 37 more to follow may pass any slower. I cannot control how many years I have but can decide how they spend.

Long, slow walks with my dog have more meaning today than the carefree runs of a decade past. There will come a day when I'd exchange my best trade ever for just one more stroll with her afield. Time spent with loved ones is pause for gratefulness instead of discontent. Hours and days spent in the wild outdoors may not be counted against me in the book of time, or so I've been told.

I'm blessed to enjoy a profession I love surrounded by the finest peers anyone could ask for. If you are reading these words tonight, count yourself within that circle and I thank you for being there. Enjoy the holidays surrounded by those you love. Savor the moments and let your mind's eye drink up all around. You & I have many miles to go filled with laughs and love but the road here on Earth does not stretch on forever.

Distinguish the difference between your life's vehicle and the passengers alongside you. Cherish them and this incredible journey together while you can!

Best Living Wishes,

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