"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Sunday, 17 July 2011

and the moral of the story is.....?

I used to love an English teacher at "that school" on the Main Road called Mr Rumboll.  He would spend an entire term reading to us.  I can still remember the book he read us called "Unman, Wittering and Zigo" and must try and find a copy of it to re-read sometime.  I know Gareth and Nic would love it.  He also had a habit of reading us very obscure short stories and ask us to write an essay on the moral of the story.  Sometimes an impossible task and especially when the story was out of Roald Dahl's "Switch Bitch". The best moral that you could sometimes come up with was "Never trust a man who wears a plaster on his index finger".  I had always associated morals with bible stories and parables but Mr Rumboll put a whole new slant on morals.  He loved debating and I sometimes remind myself of him when I stand up for Tiger Woods around the dinner table and throw in my 10c worth about his morals (which is worse - to sleep with 10 (or 20) woman who mean nothing emotionally to you or to have a long standing affair with one woman who you love?).  Okay, I won't go there Dalene (she has higher morals than I do).

So, "Sorry Mr Rumboll" today I am going to give you a short story with a moral that is simplistic and easy to understand, thought provoking and which, at the same time, makes you wish that life was so simple.

Fishing boat on the beach in small fishing village near Portimao

A tourist boat arrived in a small fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them. "Not very long" they answered

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the tourist

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?" asked the tourist

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children and take a siesta with our wives. In the evenings we go into the village to see our friends, we have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs.  We have a full and happy life"

The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked a fisherman. 

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the fishermen.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting, " answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

"With all due respect Sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now. So what's the point of wasting twenty-five years?" asked the fishermen

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