We often chase after someone else’s life, hoping to make that the purpose of ours – wanting what they have, envying what they got, wishing we have it all. But sometimes, their life may not be what you want after all. If you are not careful, you may find all that you are chasing after, may just be futile…
A story that many people would have read about, especially those pursuing financial freedom, one that depicts the irony in our current society norms – The Mexican Fisherman and the American Banker by Ronald Roge.
The story begins with…
An American investment banker, who was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village, when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.
The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”
The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, 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 investment banker scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”
Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
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 could make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Understand the Quality of Life You Seek
Many of us are chasing the lives of what others are living – the bigger house, the continental sports car, the dream partner who possess all physical attributes primarily, the lifestyle of partying and traveling as and when you want, not working another day in your life… Even the dream boards that people are setting your goals of, consist of these images to “fuel” their motivation.
I used to be one. My dream board has all the places I want to travel to, a huge mansion that parks a few cars of my dream.
But one day, when I was doing a visualisation exercise with a trainer, I realised that was not what I want entirely.
The truth is, regardless of all the things we are chasing after, the ultimate objective is to be happy, be fulfilled.
Sometimes we are lost, because certain events throw us into a downward spiral. We have no idea how to get back up. We have no clue on what to do next. We have no sense of how we can be more. We lost ourselves during the struggle.
And we started chasing after others.
The society is never going to change. The other side of a capitalistic world means that people will constantly face increasing costs or unfair advantage. But if we let that get the better of us, we will never be happy, nor satisfied.
What if the Mexican Fisherman Did Not Know What He Wanted?
What if the Mexican Fisherman has listened to the banker and agreed to go according to his plans, just because he didn’t know what he treasures most? What if he indeed, wanted more money? What if he was mesmerised by what he hears?
Perhaps the greatest danger in life is not the weapons of massive destruction (ok, they are dangerous…), not the potential criminals who cause harm, nor the deadly animals that you have lesser chances of encounter (accidents on the road has a higher death rate…). Instead, in our current society with the onslaught of media which potentially can be fake news, and rise of machines to take over most of our jobs, the greatest danger will be one’s inability to think and ask critically, especially on who we truly are.
Once we do know, there is nothing else in the world that can derail us from pursuing ourselves.
With that, we will then be able to attain our own meaning of life, our own definition of happiness.
What would your desired quality life be like?