Posted by Gail | Filed under Africa
While The Big Five may be The Big Goal while on safari, there’s also The Little Five you can watch for: Rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise and the ant-lion. But you don’t have to go to Africa to see them all.
When I was growing up in Jamaica we used to have a tiny insect that made a sand pit. I have a vague recollection of singing a chant that had the word “Mammy” in it, but I can’t quite grasp the memory and bring it into focus. Imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw the exact same configurations in the dirt outside of our safari tent.
Turns out this pit belongs to the Ant-lion. The larvae of a lacewing, the ant-lion is sometimes called a doodlebug. The little critter sits motionless at the bottom of the pit with its body concealed in the sand. When an insect, like an ant, slips over the edge of the pit and slides down, the ant-lion closes its formidable jaws around it.
But it isn’t all successful chomping for the ant-lion. Those conical pits are delicate. The wind can do them in. A rainfall can do them in. Passing footsteps of man and beast alike can do them in. And yet they persist, laying out effort in the hope of reward. It is the opportunity for reward that keeps them building and rebuilding their conical traps.
The opportunity for reward.
Most of us don’t spend much time considering the opportunity for reward in light of the risk. Sure, we hear all bout investing and how important it is to make our money grow. But many of us have little sense of the balance we must find between the risk we’ll assume and the opportunity for reward.
The very idea that we stand a good chance of losing our money – of our conical trap being destroyed – hardly every comes up when we’re being shown the average rates of return on a mutual fund. And the idea that we may have to start again from scratch to rebuild in the hope of capturing a treasure – lunch or 12% return on our investment – is spoken of only briefly and in hushed tones.
As with everything in life, you can take a big chance for the opportunity at a big reward, or you can plod along slowly and steadily sure that what you have is safe and sound. You can’t have both.
One of the questions I get most often is, “How can I make more than the sad interest rate currently being paid on my money.” My response is usually to ask the question, “How much risk are you prepared to take?”
“Risk? Oh I don’t want to lose my money.”
“There you have it then, you can’t make more return if you’re not prepared to take on more risk. The two go hand in hand.”
You have to choose. Do you want to keep your money safe and sound? Then you’ll have to settle for the low returns safe and sound investments offer. Do you want to earn more return on your money? Then you’ll have to take on some of the risk more return has attached.
You can be like the lion-ant, seeking out the opportunity for a scrumptious lunch of ant or spider, but willing to start again if the whole cone gets washed away. Or not. But you can’t have both.