THE WEALTHY BUSINESSMAN AND THE REALLY RICH FISHERMAN

A wealthy businessman was horrified to see a fisherman sitting beside his boat, playing with a small child.

“Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the businessman.

“Because I caught enough fish for one day,” replied the fisherman.

“Why don’t you catch some more?”

“What would I do with them?”

“You could earn more money,” said the businessman. “Then with the extra money, you could buy a bigger boat, go into deeper waters, and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. With the nets, you could catch even more fish and make more money. With that money you could own two boats, maybe three boats. Eventually you could have a whole fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

“Then what would I do?” asked the fisherman.

“Then,” said the businessman, “you could really enjoy life.”

The fisherman looked at the businessman quizzically and asked, “What do you think I am doing now?”

Source | Mitch Anthony, The New Retirementality
(John Wiley & Sons, 2008) pages 97-98

CONSIDER THIS

Money, wealth and contentment are not necessarily linked. If they were, there would be no such thing as a miserable rich person or a happy poor one.

What do you think is the main ingredient for a life worth living, brimming with inner peace and contentment?

 

THE FISHERMAN WHO KNEW HOW TO LIVE

A smartly-dressed enterprising tourist is taking photographs when he notices a shabbily dressed local fisherman taking a nap in his fishing boat. The tourist is disappointed with the fisherman’s apparently lazy attitude towards his work, so he approaches the fisherman and asks him why he is lying around instead of catching fish. The fisherman explains that he went fishing in the morning, and the small catch would be sufficient for the next two days.

The tourist tells him that if he goes out to catch fish multiple times a day, he would be able to buy a motor in less than a year, a second boat in less than two years, and so on. The tourist further explains that one day, the fisherman could even build a small cold storage plant, later a pickling factory, fly around in a helicopter, build a fish restaurant, and export lobster directly to Paris without a middleman.

The nonchalant fisherman asks, “Then what?”

The tourist enthusiastically continues, “Then, without a care in the world, you could sit here in the harbor, doze in the sun, and look at the glorious sea.”

“But I’m already doing that”, says the fisherman.

The enlightened tourist walks away pensively, with no trace of pity for the fisherman, only a little envy.

Source: Anecdote concerning the Lowering of Productivity
in Heinrich Boll (author), Leila Vennewitz (translator)
The Collected Stories of Heinrich Bollpages 794-796

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TWO OTHER VERSIONS OF THE SAME STORY

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.

An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with all your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have a degree in business management 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. 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 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 enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American. “And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stock and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that  – and this is the best part – you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!”

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The rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find the southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.

Why aren’t you out fishing? said the industrialist.

Because I have caught enough fish for the day, said the fisherman.

Why don’t you catch some more?

What would I do with it?

You could earn more money was the reply.

With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish.

Then you would make enough to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats…maybe even a fleet of boats.  Then you would be a rich man like me.

What would I do then?

Then you could really enjoy life.

What do you think I am doing right now?

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Is there enough balance in your life between doing and non-doing, work and rest?
  • Know where you’re going in life … you may already be there.

THE FLOWER LADY

One evening a workman was wearily plodding his way home when he stopped to rest by the side of the road.  A woman came by the place hauling a cart full of flowers.  The smell of her blossoms so perfumed the air with sweetness that it seemed to take away the weariness in his bones and to lighten his spirits.  He had never experienced such wonder from the many blooms of his own garden.  “How much must I pay, or what must I do, to have some of your wonderful flowers? he asked the woman.”

“Oh, good sir,” she said, “take what you wish.”

“What return must I make for them?” he questioned again.

“Your gratitude is enough,” she said.

So the man filled his arms with blossoms and hastened joyfully home.  And his wife and his children rejoiced with him over the remarkable flowers, for they, too, discovered that the sight of them was a delight and the smell of them refreshed the soul.

So as not to lose his treasure, the man planted the blossoms in a small plot of land behind his house.  Sunlight and water kept them amazingly beautiful, still performing their marvelous magic.

When children came to play in the yard, the man cautioned them against carelessness and wild play lest they trample the flowers and damage them.  But the flowers remained hardy and strong so long as there was enough sun and moisture to nourish them.  Nowhere else could the man or his wife or children find such remarkable solace from weariness, such comfort in sadness, such spiritual nourishment as those remarkable flowers provided.  Here was a treasure beyond value.

And as the family grew and more children came to play in the garden, the man became even more concerned over his remarkable flowers. He was determined to protect them, and so he built a high wall around them.  In time, because of his numerous children, he would allow them entrance to the small sanctuary only sparingly and with the utmost care.

Unfortunately, this began to cause consternation among the family members.  If the children caused their father stress or anguish, he would refuse them access to the flowers.  Eventually he set up rules as to who may enter the sanctuary, how they must enter, and what they must do while they’re in there.  For his part he continued to see that his treasure received enough sunlight and water so that the flowers continued to perform their wondrous magic.

As grandchildren began to appear, the man felt even greater need to safeguard his treasure.  Access to the flowers was open to all members of his family, but not without certain precautions. Requirements were to be met and standards upheld.  Offices were established to judge worthiness and to determine accessibility.  It became necessary to have lawyers to defend and judges to weigh and guards to safeguard and caretakers to upkeep, and on and on and on.

The man’s family, however, saw less and less of the flowers and experienced less and less of their magical powers. In the meantime, many of them went out in search of the flower lady.  Well, she was still out there, still giving away her amazing flowers.

Source | John Aurelio, Colors. Stories of the Kingdom
Also in William J. Bausch
A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories
pages 223-224

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • All gifts are freely given. We can either cling to them allowing ourselves to be possessed by our possessions or learn how to embrace them with a habitually relaxed grasp.
  • Caught off guard and distracted it is easy to lose right perspective, constricting ourselves and others with rigid rules made by well-meaning caretakers. What do you think?
  • Can it be that perhaps the official interpretation often becomes more important than the text, and the text becomes more important than the One behind it?

THE WISE FARMER AND HIS LAZY SONS

A hard-working and generous farmer lived with his three lazy, greedy sons. He was elderly, and just before he died, he called them to him and told them that their inheritance was buried in his fields, and that they would have to dig it up in order to receive it. No sooner than his spirit left him than his sons went out and tore apart the fields looking for the buried treasure. Having dug up the entire farm and found nothing, however, they began to wonder if it was a trick, and if their father, in his generosity, had already given all his money away to the poor. One of the sons said, “Well, we’ve already dug the fields, we might as well sow a crop to take advantage of it.” His brothers agreed, and they planted wheat in the fields, took in a good harvest, and sold it for a large sum.
After the harvest, the sons wondered if they might have just missed the treasure when digging for it, so they dug up the fields once again just in case; having found no treasure, they once again planted a crop and sold it. This continued for a few years, until the sons had at last become accustomed to the labor and realized the lesson that their father had left them with on their deathbed. They became honest and content, and lived their lives in peace.

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Another shorter version:
Once upon a time there was a farmer who had three lazy sons. While he and his wife worked day and night to tend their vineyards the sons refused to lift a finger. On his deathbed the farmer told them that he had buried a treasure in the vineyard. The sons dug up every inch of the vineyard trying to find the pot of gold. After many years of searching, they never found the spot where the treasure was hidden. However, all of their digging cultivated the ground in the vineyard. Soon the grapevines produced such abundant fruit that the three lazy sons grew wealthy, unwittingly, from their own hard work.
PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • There is not such thing as a fruitful harvest without the sweat of sowing and planting.