A fisherman on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Standing on a pier in a remote coastal village, a vacationing American businessman watched as a tiny boat ladened with tuna docked nearby. Clearly impressed with the quality of the local fisherman’s catch, the American asked how long it took him to reel in his haul.
“Only a short while,” responded the fisherman.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”
“With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
Seeming a bit perplexed by the question, the fisherman smiled and said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take 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.”
The American scoffed, “I can help you. If you spent more time fishing you could earn enough to buy a bigger boat and even hire some extra hands. By plowing your profits back into the business you could buy more boats and eventually amass an entire fleet of trawlers. Then you can leave this little village and move to a big city where it will be easy to manage your growing enterprise.”
“How long will this all take?” asked the fisherman.
“Fifteen, maybe twenty years.”
“That’s a long time. Why would I want to do that?”
The American laughed and said, “Because after all of those years of hard work your company will be large enough that you can sell it and use the proceeds to retire.”
“What will I do then?”
“That’s the best part. Once you retire you can move to a small coastal village, sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandchildren, take siesta with your wife in the afternoon and, in the evening, stroll into town where you can sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”
- Adapted from a story by Heinrich Böll