Summers in the Pacific Northwest are truly glorious. Are you getting as much time to enjoy the summer as you’d like?
Many of us who live here, I suspect, suffer from one of two dilemmas keeping us from fully enjoying our summers — being money rich and time poor, or being both money poor and time poor.
Have you heard the parable of the Mexican fisherman?
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. He replied, “Only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, 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 amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and, with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then L.A. and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “Fifteen to 20 years.”
“But what then?” the fisherman asked.
The American 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 — then what?” the fisherman asked. To which the American replied, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing 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.”
It’s a simple story with a powerful message. Consider the benefits of a simpler life and be clear about your values instead of allowing the status of business and conventional notions of success and security to define your life.
If you’d like to invest a little time reading, pondering, and discussing topics like these with neighbors and new friends, join us for an Northwest Earth Institute discussion course, “A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World,” this fall at Stillwaters Environmental Center. Call 360-297-1226 for details.
It was a Northwest Earth Institute discussion course called “Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability,” that brought me to Stillwaters the first time many years ago, so I know you will find the experience enriching.
— Beth Berglund is a Stillwaters Environmental Center board member. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.