LIVING LIFE ON THE SLOW LANE – The fisherman’s story

So, I ran into this story.

A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

“Not very long” they answered in unison.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”


“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.

Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!!! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.


“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there!

Many times in life, money is not everything.

“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”

There are two different angles to look at his story. You could consider these fishermen as being extremely lazy, or consider them as being fortuitous enough to know exactly what they need in life, and going for it, and no further.

Someone says, in response :

He Is Richest Whose Wants Are Simplest Moral of this story. This is certainly worth thinking about. Saw this some time ago teaches some salient lessons. Control your wants, enjoy your life. Why do we work so hard to make money we do not have time to enjoy? We need to ask ourselves if we truly need all these things we crave.

A 37 year hypertensive woman I know is already plotting to buy a Ferarri Testarossa for her 40 – year birthday and is willing to acquire ulcers while about it. She is so busy working she has forgotten to live. What shall it profit a woman if she gains the whole world, but loses her health, friends, and family?

This is one way to look at this story.

Another way to look at it is exemplified by this impassioned response :

I think the story was written by the fisherman for his children as a way of explaining away his subsistence mindset.

Most people who work hard and earn higher income don’t even do so just to have a better life and fun. They mostly do so to make an impact: create employment for others, sow seeds that will live beyond them, influence a better world than they met, etc.

The fisherman cannot even protect his family against any significant shock to his means of livelihood e.g if he or any other member of the family has a prolonged illness. And that’s just one of the problems of subsistence living. He can’t see the world beyond his backyard and that could be more fun than just laying about drinking with same old friends for his whole life.

To deliberately under-utilize oneself is called laziness so the fisherman is lazy both mentally and physically.

I’m deliberately trying to sound mean to the fisherman because I do not like his line of thought at all and this is not what we should teach our children – our children should dream very big and work hard but should not be desperate to break any rules to bring their dream to life.

For me, I think there has to be a balance between work and life. The pertinent question then is, if you are putting in enough, or more than enough effort than is necessary to contribute a sizeable chunk to societal development.

Now who / what determines how hard you need to, or should, work? What is wrong in working smart, rather than working hard? And, regarding goals, is there a law that says you must aim for the skies, if you are okay with aiming for just the moon?


Worth pondering over.

The average Frenchman is said to averagely work a lesser number of hours compared to his European Peers. There is also the concept of the Middle Way in the Oriental. And there was this story I read about a society where they generally live past the age of a hundred and it was discovered that they live that long because they take life at a more sedate pace, and have a more closely knit communal life.

Are you killing yourself, by being perpetually on overdrive, close to the red line? The Japanese (and Orientals generally) are said to work far longer hours than their Occidental counterparts. The Japanese works so hard they don’t have time to procreate, and the average youth is not interested in (the opposite) sex! This is why they have an ageing society.

Perhaps you want to leave your mark on the Sands of time? Perhaps you are game for a more relaxed pace of life, and just want to be an ordinary average Joe?

Food for thought.

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