Swim Till You Sink

It’s ok to take on a challenge without knowing where it could take you. 

Breathe in for a minute. Think about the word “pointless” and then exhale. Ok, one more time, adding some nuance:

It’s ok to take on a challenge without a precisely identified endpoint, goal, or purpose. 

This is one of those “zen of financial planning” things I run into all of the time in my work.

“Should I really do this?” Could be a weekend getaway. Could be a career change. 

It’s always some form of a goal that is purely qualitative, and not quantifiable in any way. 

Yet it always seems to feel so pointlessly important at the singular (starting) point in time when the question is asked.

And that’s why the answer to a person’s positive-potential curiosities is (usually) met with me answering, “Yes – do it.”  


It takes me back to Joseph Conrad. There are so many layers of metaphor within this. It’s a quote from a short story where a sea captain finds a swimmer in the middle of a body of water nobody has any good reason to be swimming in. 

The swimmer explains, 

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank — but that’s not the same thing.”

― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

It’s not nihilistic.

It is a touch existential. 

But I agree with the swimmer – it’s not the same thing at all. 

Hello, fellow swimmers in the night. 

I don’t know where we’re headed either. 

And that’s ok. 

Pointless now might have a point later. 

If the water is calling, dive in. 

(can’t believe I’ve been thinking of this quote for 25+ years now…)