The Proverbial Ostrich

You may have heard phrase or have been the subject of the metaphor – don’t be an ostrich.

Apparently, the ostrich, despite being the fastest running bird in the world, is widely known for sticking its heads in the earth, hiding from stark reality, pretending it does not exist.

Nevertheless, to draw on that expression is akin to statements such as, sleep like a baby, or, close but no cigar. In other words, none of the above expressions really make sense in today’s world. A baby is alluded to being quiet and fast asleep for large quantities of time, despite our knowledge that a baby is hardly ever quiet or deeply asleep for very long. Furthermore, we aren’t sure why a person would want a cigar or let alone be close to one, but apparently, we should be upset we did not get one. This all is to say that when we take a moment to ponder the above expressions, each seems incorrect and borderline humorous.

Cigars use to be carnival prizes. A baby was past judged on the quality of its peaceful sleep instead of how long it was peacefully asleep. Yet, here, ostriches may be the most misunderstood of the bunch. An ostrich, in fact, does not hide its head in the sand. An ostrich, much like a human, will either attack or flee when confronted by a predator or threat. This all is to say, 1) ostriches are possibly very misunderstood, 2) why would I even want to be an ostrich, and 3) can I even believe commonly accepted phrases anymore?

To be blunt, 1) ostriches are very misunderstood, 2) there is likely value in emulating an ostrich, and 3) one should probably subscribe less to common phraseology and in turn think for themselves.

Thinking for myself, I researched our friend, the ostrich, and found that I really knew nothing. Call me Jon Snow.

Ostriches do indeed stick their heads in the sand. However, they do this to check on the temperature of their eggs, not to hide themselves from threats or to hope for the best. To be honest, the more I researched, the more enviable an ostrich seemed. They are fast. They are intelligent. They know when to fight and when to run and live to see another day. They are forward thinking and thoughtful regarding the protection of their current well-being, their offspring, and life beyond today.

Therefore, I’ll go out on a limb here and say – be the ostrich.

In today’s world, especially in America, we are 7x more likely to be sued than we are to be in a car accident. We are more likely to save $100,000 to later find out we hardly ever saved anything at all.

The above phraseology does not really make sense in 2024. In the same vein, it is likely that a lot of things once commonly accepted don’t hold true today.

While a one-time will once was effective estate planning, today it is likely to create more problems than it is to protect your loved ones and execute your wishes. Likewise, investing in yesterday (or today’s) sure fire investments may leave your loved ones holding worthless Nokia and Kodak stock instead of Apple or $400,000 worth of gold invested in 1969 and held for 40 years. We simply don’t live in a world where colloquialisms describe reality, let alone effective planning for us or for our loved ones.

Instead, we live in a world where we need to check on our assets and look after the things we love and care for. We should not strive for a one-time solution, instead we need to accept the reality that we should be regularly checking on things such as our assets, our estate, and our overall liability to losing everything we have ever worked for. In other words, we should be checking on how warm our eggs in the sand are. Likewise, we should be prepared for the moments when we must decide whether it is better to fight or to run, rather than to pretend we already have appropriately erected deterrents for any future problem that may arise.

We live in a world where we need to think for ourselves. We live in a world where yesterday’s solution could be today’s biggest pitfall.

Therefore, I encourage you all to channel your inner ostrich. Do not listen to what others think. Do not worry how you may appear to the outside world, for one may see your head in the sand, hiding, when you are confronting your biggest threat head on. Others may think you are fleeing from the first sign of danger, when you may just be making the best decision based on today’s facts as you best understand it.

A human being is more likely to hide and “put their head in the sand” than an ostrich is. Likewise, you are much more likely to lose everything you have ever worked for than you are to becoming the next Rockefeller family. The sooner you realize that the ostrich’s head is in the sand for a very good reason is the sooner you realize that you should probably check on your eggs more often and stop listening to what everyone else is saying. You should stay informed, find the right team of advocates, and simply think for yourself.