Are you chasing a dream without knowing what you want?
About ten years ago, my Grandad shared this folktale with me. It taught me one of my most valued lessons. Maybe you’ve heard it. . .
One afternoon, a Nicaraguan fisherman and his two young sons were boating back to shore after a full morning at sea.
The morning’s catch had filled half the rickety fishing boat’s real estate. All in a good morning’s work.
On the other side of the bay, a shiny white yacht was motoring in from open waters. The boat seemed to be half the length of a football field.
The youngest boy awed. “Father, look at that man’s boat. He must catch many, many fish.”
The eldest turned to the younger brother and said, “Are you nuts? That man isn’t a fisherman. He’s a businessman. He must have two houses — or three!”
The youngest boy had never seen such wealth.
The fisherman let his sons “Ooo” and “Aww” all the way to shore. At last, he spoke.
“That man must have a lot of money. But, let me tell you something; there is one thing we have that the man over there will never have.”
“Yeah, right,” the eldest son said.
“What? What do we have, father?” the youngest asked curiously.
The father got out of the boat — wading thigh-high in water. He looked his sons in the eyes and said,
The next day, around the same time, the fisherman and his two sons were once again drifting into shore. Today’s catch was even bigger than the day prior.
His sons transferred the fish from the boat to a cooler on the beach while the fisherman tied up the boat.
As they were doing so, a man walking by on the beach asked to buy a bucket of fresh squid.
“Hello, there. I’d like to buy a few kilos of squid. My wife and I are dying for calamari tonight.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the fisherman said from the water. “No squid today.”
“Oh, yeah? I see some right there in your boy’s cooler.”
“Oh, sorry, sir. There are only a few squids. Today is my wife’s birthday and she has requested squid herself.”
“I see. Say — you seem to be quite the crew. This is the biggest catch of the day from what I’ve seen,” the man said.
“Thank you, sir. Where are you from?” the fisherman asked.
“I’ve just docked here yesterday. We came all the way from America.”
“That’s your boat?” the youngest boy asked in shock.
“Oh, that? Yeah, she’s my yacht, alright,” said the man. Now, he directed his attention to their father, “Are you guys going out for round two in the afternoon? I can come back later for the squid.”
“I’m afraid not, sir. It’s 11 o’clock. Quittin’ time. There’s a hammock under the tree over there with my name on it.”
“There’s still so much of the day left, though. What do you do during the rest of the day?”
“Usually, I eat lunch with my sons, spend time with my wife, and maybe have a few drinks with my friends in the evening.”
“I’m sure if you take the boat out for a few more hours, you can double your catch,” the man proposed.
“Maybe. But why would I want to double my catch?” the fisherman asked.
“You see, if you can double your catch for, let’s say, a few months, you can buy a pontoon boat. A bigger boat means it can hold more fish and get to deeper waters. You won’t have to come to shore to unload at 11 in the morning. You could stay out until the late afternoon, probably.”
The fisherman looked skeptical, but he entertained the idea.
“After a few more months, you’ll be able to purchase another pontoon. Doubling your fleet. You’ll be catching four times the fish you are right now,” the man said.
The young boys turned to their father. He listened curiously to the rest of the man’s business advice.
“After a year, you could purchase a car and take the fish to the city yourself. Cut out the middlemen and sell in bulk to the market. You see?”
“Kind of. Why would I want to cut out the middlemen? They are my friends,” the fisherman said.
“Because you can make a lot more money if you don’t have to pay your friends to take the fish to the market. More money means less stress. Isn’t that what you want?”
“I’m not a very stressful man,” the fisherman said.
“Yes, but you’ll be much less stressed. In fact, if you follow this plan, you could sell to large retailers and buy a house in the city.”
“How long would that take?” the fisherman asked.
“If you follow this plan exactly, you could hire a team and retire in no more than 25 years.”
“Really!” The fisherman exclaimed. “And after that?”
“Well, after that is when life gets really enticing,” the man said. “You’ll be able to move to a coastal village somewhere. You can spend time with your sons and wife, take naps in the hammock, and even spend nights in town with your friends. Whatever you want to do, really.”
The fisherman’s eyes shrunk. He nodded with a chuckle.
“What is it, father? Are we going to follow the man’s advice?” the youngest boy asked.
“I don’t think so, my boy. We have a full and happy life now. It’s enough.”
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