Life and Living, Other Stuff

And then there’s that wonderful story…

about the fisherman and the businessman.

Various origins and sources are cited as to the origins of this story and there are one or two variations.

Here is the one I found which accorded most with the one I remembered, written supposedly by Paulo Coelho though I don’t recall that he was the original author:

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.

As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.

The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”

The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”

“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.

“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”

The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.

“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”

The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”

The fisherman asks, “And after that?”

pic of fish

The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”


Brilliant isn’t it? I thought a lot about this story when I came back from Stanford the last time.

Part of me thinks I want a simple life. Escape from traffic and robots and busy parking lots and too many people. Too much pressure! I thought a cottage in Stanford would create those sporadic scenes of simplicity but I got caught up with reality. That’s the problem with life: simple reality. The reality of rands and cents going out and out and out and needing a little more to come in ‘cos there are mouths to feed and minds to educate and places to explore and we supposedly have longer life expectancies and so then the promise of someone handling it all since I live in a different town and it’s difficult to change bed linen and toilet rolls when you’re about 150kms away each time and then it was all just complicated and messy. And I was taken for a complete ride.

I spent a slightly frazzled time there a few weeks ago, trying to understand village life and who’s friends with who and whether rules of life operate differently in a small town compared to the big city. Whether that so-called illusive ‘simple’ life was only reserved for a few? Whether compassion and equity are compatible concepts? Simple fairness?

Perhaps it’s that marvelous life lesson that says that wherever you go, there you are! And light bulbs need replacing and paint starts to peel after all.

We all want a little more peace. Peace in our minds, peace in our lives, peace in the world. ( I’m sure I’ve written this somewhere before)

I came home and decided to move on. I didn’t feel like that vengeful attitude anymore. I don’t like that feeling. But I also needed to try and recover at least some of what I lost. Some of the ‘big business feel’ that the businessman suggested to the fisherman and I sat up ’til 2am putting together an online rental site, finding nice pics, describing my piece of paradise so that others could enjoy it too – for a little fee of course.

And I was so excited about the little fees. A friend had shown me how lucrative it all could be. And I felt I wanted a piece of it too but as we drove back up the coast again a few weeks later, I wondered whether I’d ever really be that businessman.

If truth be told, I‘ll always be the fisherman.

Fishermen and businessmen.

Which one are you?

I’d like to speculate here and tell you my other story.

But not on this blog!

Til then!




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