Two Paths Diverged on an Anfield Road

Posted by PhaseOfPlay on March 4, 2014, 12:37:09 AM

With 10 games to go in the league, and Liverpool in second place and 4 points behind the leaders, Chelsea, it looks like the run-in will be the most exciting in a Liverpool season in years (certainly since 2008-09 – although there’s a chance this run-in will surpass even that). There is a lot to be hopeful for, and a lot to be apprehensive about. Liverpool supporters stand on the precipice of emotion – how should we react to something that is tantalisingly real, yet so precariously out of our hands? Do we throw our cards on the table and hope it’s enough, or do we keep them close to our chest and wait until the last gambit? It’s such an unusual situation for Liverpool supporters recently, that it seems hard to know how to act. But let it be said – we do stand at a crossroads in terms of how we show our support. The question is not whether Liverpool have the resources to win an unlikely title, but whether the supporters are willing to unite as a vocal unit and wilfully display their hopes and dreams.

A Cautionary Tale

There was an old man who had some wealth. He had three sons. He gave each of the three sons a large sum of money, to be used as they saw fit within the space of a year. The oldest son was bright and outgoing. He was smart, reasonably successful, but a risk-taker. The middle son was also bright, but more conservative, having a plan for his life and what he wanted from it. The youngest son was cautious by nature, and cynical. He saw very little joy in most things, and was only happy with dead certainties.

A year went by, and the sons went home to the father for a family gathering. The father, at dinner, asked the oldest son did with his gift of money. “I took my portion, father, and I invested it in stocks and shares. I played some markets sensibly, but with others I took some risks. I invested in young ventures, most of which failed, but one which has been successful beyond our wildest dreams, and now I have increased my gift tenfold, and am the majority shareholder in one of the most successful computer businesses in the world”. The father smiled and asked if he would change anything. The eldest son replied “I have taken risks that others wouldn’t take, I have speculated, I have lost, and I have accumulated. But all of the time I sized up the possibilities and made balanced decisions. Some worked, some didn’t, but I wouldn’t substitute the thrills and spills of the last year for anything. That I became rich from my ventures is merely a bonus. The true value was in the journey”.

The father then turned to the middle son, and asked him the same. The middle son replied “well I wasn’t as unabashed with my gift as my elder brother. Instead, I invested my money in property and low-yield but secure investments that will give me money over a longer period. I didn’t experience the highs and lows, but instead I saw my investment grow steadily and surely. I let my money work for me, and did so to such an extent that I too will be rich like my older sibling, but without the same amount of risk.” The father then asked him if he would change anything. The middle son answered “I might have lived a more exciting life if I’d taken a few more risks, and I do wish I had a little bit more excitement than I have had. But overall, I wanted to increase my wealth and the value of my gift, and I have done so, and for that, I am quietly satisfied”.

The old man turned to the younger son. He asked him the same question – “How did you use your gift?” The son shuffled uneasily in his chair. “Well, I was very happy to have had the gift, let me assure you. But I saw my oldest brother throw his money into this venture and that venture, never knowing if he would gain or lose money, such are the vagaries of the money markets. So I decided not to follow his example. I then looked at my middle brother, and I saw how he played it safe and kept a comfortable life, always putting off his enjoyment of his gift for a later day – a day that may never come. I didn’t want to do that, because I think the gift was there to be enjoyed. So I took a little of the money, and I spent it on wine, women, and material things. That left me with the balance, which I thought I could save, so that when my eldest brother had run out of money, I would still have some; and when my middle brother was still waiting for his returns and unable to touch his riches, I could still spend mine when I wanted. I didn’t put it in a bank account, because banks can fail, and I didn’t want to risk that. I didn’t want to buy property, because property can decrease in value, and I would be left with less than I had in the first place. So I decided to keep it. I thought about hiding it under my bed, but thieves would surely look there first, and they would steal my money. So I thought about putting it in a safe; but thieves would simply take the safe, and I would be left empty-handed still. So I hid it underneath the floorboards, because thieves would surely neglect to search there, and the money would be there any time I needed it.”

The father looked at his youngest son with incredulity. He asked him “And would you change anything if you could do it again?” And the youngest son looked at his father with sadness. “I surely would have, father. Perhaps I could be a little more foolhardy like my eldest brother, and invest some on the stock markets and see what kinds of returns I could have gotten. Perhaps I could have enjoyed my money more. Or maybe I could have been like my middle sibling, and put my money into safe investments, and at least had the joy of knowing that I was increasing my wealth, even if I didn’t show it publicly. As it stands, I’m left with no enjoyment of my gift at all, save for the few frivolous weeks that I can never reclaim”. The father looked puzzled. “Why is that?” he said.

“Because, father, I’d buried my gift, my hope, so far under the floorboards that mice came along and ate it. When I tried to dig it back up to show you today, all I found was scraps of useless paper. I had a gift that could have been made into something stupendous. Instead, my caution caused me to lose what I had in the first place. And now I’m left with nothing but regrets”.
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We stand at the junction of an important part of the season. We, as supporters, can approach this junction in one of two ways. We can speculate to accumulate and invest silently in the hope of one of the greatest outcomes in the club’s history, and enjoy every step of the way.

Or we can take the road of cynical caution – forever suspicious of those who might want to partake in the vitality of a title challenge, fully believing that the goal can be achieved. We can invest in our future, or we can take the pessimist’s view that it can’t be done, and fail to enjoy the moment for what it is.

Two paths diverged on an Anfield Road. Will you choose the path of the happy optimist? Or will you hide the gift of hope deep inside, to be eaten away and lost at the first suspicion of failure?

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