A story about fishermenby Cornelius Weidmann on 25 November 20233 min read
The following is a short story I read many years ago while I was at university studying to become an engineer. It is a story which I think about quite often, even to this day.
I think it resonates with me because I've always had a deep yearning to be content with what I have, and also, because I would love to live on an island... who wouldn't want to stroll along the beach every day of their life? The sound of the waves with the palm trees in the background and nothing more than the sunshine inviting you to enjoy the beauty of life.
A boat is 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 a 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 time with 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 fishermen.