The Mexican Fisherman

This is one of my favourite short stories by Ajahn Brahm. It Highlights to me about people sacrificing family and friendship for work at what sometimes can be a large cost.

The Mexican fisherman In a quiet Mexican fishing village, an American on vacation was watching a local fisherman unload his morning catch. The American, a successful professor at a prestigious US business school, couldn’t resist giving the Mexican fisherman a little bit of free advice. ‘Hey!’ began the American. ‘Why are you finishing so early?’ ‘Since I have caught enough fish, Señor,’ replied the genial Mexican, ‘enough to feed my family and a little extra to sell. Now I will take some lunch with my wife and, after a little siesta in the afternoon, I will play with my children. Then, after dinner, I will go to the cantina, drink a little tequila and play some guitar with my friends. It is enough for me, Señor.’ ‘Listen to me, my friend,’ said the business professor. ‘

If you stay out at sea until late afternoon, you will easily catch twice as much fish. You can sell the extra, save up the money, and in six months, maybe nine, you’ll be able to buy a bigger and better boat and hire some crew. Then you’ll be able to catch four times as many fish. Think of the extra money you will make! In another year or two, you will have the capital to buy a second fishing boat and hire another crew. If you follow this business plan, in six or seven years you will be the proud owner of a large fishing fleet. Just imagine that! Then you should move your head office to Mexico City, or even to LA. After only three or four years in LA, you float your company on the stockmarket giving yourself, as CEO, a generous salary package with substantial share options. In a few more years — listen to this! — you initiate a company share buy-back scheme, which will make you a multi-millionaire! Guaranteed! I’m a well-known professor at a US business school. I know these things.’

The Mexican fisherman listened thoughtfully at what the animated American had to say. When the professor had finished, the Mexican asked him, ‘But, Señor Professor, what will I do with so many millions of dollars?’ Surprisingly, the American professor hadn’t thought the business plan through that far. So he quickly figured out what a person would do with millions of dollars. ‘Amigo! With all that dough, you can retire. Yeah! Retire for life. You can buy a little villa in a picturesque fishing village like this one, and purchase a small boat for going fishing in the morning. You can have lunch with your wife every day, and a siesta afterwards with nothing to worry you. In the afternoon you can spend quality time with your kids and, after dinner in the evening, play guitar with your friends in the cantina, drinking tequila. Yeah, with all that money, my friend, you can retire and take it easy.’

‘But, Señor Professor, I do all that already.’ Why do we believe that we have to work so hard and get rich first, before we can find contentment?

Ajahn Brahm – Opening the Door to Of Your Heart 

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