While sitting in Church on a recent Sunday I heard a sort of folktale that turns our culture of busyness on its head and basically provides a blueprint for how we want to live our lives.
The story goes:
One day, late in the morning, An American investment banker was standing at the edge of the pier in a small coastal village when a small boat with a single fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on his haul and asked, “How long did it take you to catch them?”
The Fisherman replied, “oh just a few hours.”
The Banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The fisherman explained that he had enough to support his family’s needs so there was no need to catch anymore.
The banker then inquired, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman explained, “I sleep in, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my friends.”
“I live a full and busy life.”
The banker chuckled. “Listen, I am a Harvard MBA and I can help you. First, You should spend more time fishing and with the profits –buy a bigger boat. Then, with the income from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Now, rather than sell your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You can control the product, the processing, and distribution. Obviously you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to a large city where you will run your developing enterprise.”
Intrigued the fisherman asked “But, how long will this all take?” To which the banker replied, “around 10 years.”
“Ok, but what then?” asked the Fisherman.
The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich.
You would make millions!”
“Millions” exclaimed the fisherman. Then what?”
“Well Then,” The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Really makes you think right?
As a society, especially here in New York, we glorify “Busy.” Our culture tells us that “busy” is akin to success.
Here’s the secret: It’s not.
Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most. His response:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Maybe its time to figure out where our coastal village is and build around that instead of living to accumulate so that one day we have just enough to enjoy a small piece of the life that we want.
- Forty:8th & Tailored