This past weekend I happened to be at a fun little beach bar with some friends who were visiting from out of town. While there, we happened to run into a chatty guy who had had a little (maybe a lot) too much to drink. He had just moved to the beach town a few months ago, and was apparently very happy with his new situation. While I’m not sure you could take everything he said at face value (“No way I would trade in my tiny place here for a mansion even 10 minutes away”…”I’m telling you, I make crazy money”), the underlying message that he was trying to get across was clear: For him, being happy and enjoying life along the way was important, perhaps the most important.
Drunken wisdom from a stranger who approaches you and chats your ear off at a beach bar is not always the most sound wisdom. However, in this case, I kind of liked his point (when you finally got down to the core, at least). It reminded me of the following story:
An American businessman visits a small village while on vacation. He sees a local fisherman coming ashore mid-morning with a small basket of fish. He asks the fisherman if he’s done fishing for the day. The fisherman replies, “I have enough fish to help feed my family and a little extra to sell at market to take care of our needs. It’s early enough in the day that I can make it home to be with my family.”
The businessman, confused, responded, “But if you worked more hours you could catch so many more of these excellent fish.”
“What would I do with all those extra fish?” said the fisherman.
“Sell them, of course!” exclaimed the businessman. “You could really make quite a bit of money selling them.”
“What do I need more money for?” questioned the fisherman.
“Well if you had more money you could purchase more boats and hire fisherman to work for you,” stated the businessman.
“But why would I want an entire fleet of boats and fisherman?” asked the fisherman.
“Well, as you grow, you could move to a big city to manage your enterprise. And when the time is right and you become big enough, you can go public. Then you would really be wealthy.”
“How long does this all take?” asked the fisherman.
“If you’re lucky, only about 15-20 years! By the time you are 60, you will be able to retire to a relaxing village, and spend your days fishing and visiting your family!” said the excited businessman.
The fisherman paused and looked at the businessman. A smile slowly crept over his lips, and he gave a nod to the businessman and walked on with his basket of fish to see his wife and kids.
I kind of like that little story, even if it’s a romanticized notion that’s not entirely realistic for many of us. Again, I think it’s the underlying point that has some real value: Enjoy the journey and realize that time is valuable; spend as much of it as you can with those you care about, doing things you care about.
Two quick things to clarify. First: This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live at/near a beach. As Corona says, “Find your beach.” This could be in the mountains, in the cold, or in the middle of the Midwest. Or it could be near friends or family. It’s not necessarily a specific place. Second: This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard or have big aspirations. Go for them. What I do think is that while working hard (or doing whatever you’re doing), you do the best you can to enjoy the journey. Again, do your best to make time for people and things that you care about and make you happy.