how’s that again?

have been running from required activity to required activity and not paying enough attention to some of the earlier thoughtful posts and comments, so want to go back a thread or two, to a story you all might find relevant to both the consumerism and life style thoughts. To me just naming how we live in terms of words like those implies an external point of view, similar i believe to the comments about the GDP value being greater for the overweight about to be in court smoker fellow than the obviously poverty striken family living within their means… Seems it’s about how we measure things, how we value the things that make up our lives.

The story goes somethng like this:
A successful norteamericano businessman is on a seaside vacation in a rural area of the Central American coast. He is walking along the beach in the morning below the village, and a small boat comes to shore and the three fishermen begin unloading a half dozen good sized tuna into an old rusty truck. The vacationer wanders over to inspect the proceedings, and inquires where they got the fish. “Oh we went out before dawn this morning and caught them just off here.” “Well that’s a good catch and it’s only 10 oclock in the morning. What are you going to do now?” The captain said they were going to take them up to the village, and cut them up to sell. Then we are going to go to the cantina and have some food with our families.”

The vacationer considers the reply for a bit then says “…well you know that if you stayed out longer then you could catch more fish and you would make more money.” “Well senor, that is true but…” “Then you could get a bigger boat and catch even more fish… If you did that then you might even be able to buy another boat or two.” “But senor, why would i want to do that?” “Then you could make even more money, and hire people to run your boats… and then you would have time to spend with your family.”

2 Replies to “how’s that again?”

  1. Yes, that is it exactly.
    We all get told exactly that. That we have to go out there, conquer the world, and make a lot of money in order to be happy.
    When happiness is right there in front of us, free of charge, in the wondrous details of a starry night or a walk in the woods or the words of a friend.

  2. Richard,
    Our modern western culture certainly has adopted the view that success is measured by our accumulation of money or possessions. In my mind the family living within their means were far from being “obviously poverty striken”, but I’m sure many people would think of that lifestyle in those terms.

    The US has a negative view of subsistence farmers and tries to provide “agricultural subsidies”. There is a local farm family that raises vegetables to sell at the farmers market. They work hard and live a modest lifestyle. I’m sure they will not accumulate a lot of money or land, but they are living a rich and rewarding life.

    One time in graduate school I dated a man who was successful by most people’s standards. He had a good job, money, a nice house, a nice car. One day I noticed that his leather gloves had a seam that opened up and I offered to sew it for him. He was amazed that someone would actually do that. After I finished repairing his gloves he thanked me and then said “It must be hard to be so poor.” Just because I value repairing over throwing away and purchasing new, doesn’t mean I’m poor.

    Our wasteful mentality must be replaced if we are ever to get off this consumer based lifestyle! I enjoy living “below my means”. It is much less stressful than living in debt.

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