I’d like to share a story by Heinrich Boll, it’s been adapted over the years, but this is the basic theme:
A businessman was on vacation, visiting a small coastal village when one day, while walking along the white sandy beach early in the morning he came across a friendly looking fisherman who had just caught an impressive looking fish.
“How long did it take you to catch that?” the businessman asked, impressed by the size of the fish.
“Only a little while,” the fisherman said as he began to pack up his reel and tackles.
“Why don’t you stay out a little longer and catch more fish?” the businessman asked.
The fisherman gazed down at his catch and replied, “This is more than enough for today.”
“But,” the businessman then asked, “what will you do with the rest of your time?”
“I’ll prepare the fish then play with my children and take a stroll with my wife, then after dinner I’ll wonder into the village this evening to see my friends.”
The businessman looked puzzled by this reply, “But why give up now?” he asked, “You’re doing so well, and the fish are obviously biting, you should catch a few more fish and then sell them at the market. If you’d do that for a couple of weeks, who knows, you could maybe earn enough money to buy a boat. With a boat you could surely catch more fish.”
“Interesting,” said the fisherman, “but why would I want even more fish?”
“The more fish you catch, the more you could sell… in a couple of months you may even be able to hire some of your friends to work for you,” said the businessman.
“Work for me? Why would I want that?” replied the fisherman.
“Well there doesn’t seem to be much competition out here fishing, the potential to make a lot of money is right in front of you, to me it sounds like a very promising business. After a couple years and some hard work you could have dozens of fishing boats working for you, you could make millions!”
“Millions?” Exclaimed the fisherman, “Wow, but what would I do with millions of dollars?”
“That’s the best part.” exclaimed the businessman looking out over the ocean, “When the time is right for you, you could retire. Then you could spend your days playing with your children, taking strolls on the beach with your wife, and seeing your friends every evening.”
“But I’m already doing that,” says the fisherman.
My interpretation of this story is not one of anti-capitalism, or even anti-work ethic, but instead it’s a story of knowing one’s true goals and ambitions.
For me, the beauty of this story is that the fisherman’s life is the life he wants.
This means the story is one against having your goals hijacked, or feeling that somehow if you’re not working hard at something you’re not working hard at life.
If anything it’s a story illustrating the folly of working for working’s sake.
My plan was to spend the rest of this blog explaining how this relates back to fitness and health, nutrition, and exercise… But I think I’m going to leave it here. If you’d like to spend a couple minutes considering the parallels in the story to what we do in health and nutrition, I think you can figure it out 😉