A fishing boat on a beach with the sea in the background

The Simple Life

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An American businessman was standing 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.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “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 a siesta 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, señor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you could buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, señor?”

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, señor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”


The above story was written by Heinrich Böll and I discovered it on the Patches of Godlight blog. I think it’s a beautiful piece that captures something of the insanity of the capitalist dream. God bless you dear friends and thank you for reading!

26 comments

  1. I got a good laugh out of that! While I don’t live in a small Mexican fishing village, I have chosen the simple life in Southwest, Arkansas. There are some things we don’t have, but it is far less stressful. Of course, I have found that most of the stress we experience is self inflicted. Many times I strive to do more than I should. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I live in the heart of London and it is super-stressful sometimes! Sometimes I really crave a tent and a campfire. But I’m glad that I’m not someone who strives for material wealth. God has taught me some lessons about the value of simplicity. Thanks again, Phil.

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  2. Hi Steven!

    I loved the story and the moral would seem to be that it would be good for humanity if it was organised so that we all had sufficient to meet our needs and were able to resist the temptation to attain more. My concern is for the are people who do not have enough to meet their needs.

    Peace and love to all,
    Dinos

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dinos!

      Yes, I agree, and on a personal level I think the moral is that striving to attain happiness through material wealth is a somewhat absurd thing to do, when those things that contribute to happiness are actually quite simple. This is a generalisation, of course.

      Blessings and have a good weekend.

      Steven

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  3. I was going to respond to this on the day you posted it. Days before this I was asking God why was I placed, specifically, where I am right now. He answered in multiple ways, layers almost. One of the answers was similar to this story. He wants me to do something specific, and nothing specific, and being here, doing some of it, is living (in part) to the simple life. Way over my head some days. Luckily, though, since His ways are higher than mine, I’m not expected to “get it” right away… or at all. *Whew!*

    Basically, thanks for sharing. I love when He does things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” In 2011, I sold my business, gave away my worldly possessions, packed two bags with clothes and boarded a plane to S.E. Asia. Now I can spend my time walking the streets and seashore, enjoying the company of neighbors, helping those in need, sleeping and awakening at the hour of my choosing, sipping a little wine and writing without worrying about the distractions that come with the struggle for the legal tender.

    Liked by 1 person

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