It's an exciting day on Wall Street, with the major market indexes up 2% to 3%. What's behind the optimism?

For starters, tech bellwether Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) had a huge burden lifted from its shoulders Friday when U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly allowed the company's antitrust settlement with the Justice Department to stand. Other big tech names -- such as Cisco(Nasdaq: CSCO), Intel(Nasdaq: INTC), and Dell(Nasdaq: DELL) -- are riding along on Mr. Softy's coattails.

The possibility that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates this week is also working in the market's favor. Anytime that happens, interest-paying vehicles such as bonds and CDs become less attractive to investors, and stocks more attractive.

According to one headline today, investors are "piling in." This is an exciting time; after all, the S&P 500 has soared over 14% in the last month, alone. Has the bear market ended? Are you feeling you'll be left behind if you don't run with the crowd?

Don't be anxious. Take your time. Read through our 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly. The train won't leave you at the station -- the market will still be there for you when you're ready.

On the other hand, if you are ready, this is as good a time as any. If you're nowhere near retirement age, and you aren't yet putting away at least some of your savings in the stock market, you probably should be. Are we saying stocks are ready to take off? Not at all. Simply put, we still don't believe anyone can time the market with any consistency, so if you're ready to invest, go for it. The timing is less important than making the decision to educate yourself and get started.

If you need some help, we have plenty to offer: The How to Start Investing How-To Guide, or The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, for example.

Investing in the stock market is still the best way we know of to get rich... gradually.