The Decision to Remain Small

Many times folks have said to me that If I can do such a successful business with such moderately-sized gardens under till, why don’t I expand, Valid question . . .to which I offer this story which came my way some time ago and is ready for a re-run . . .

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said that he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?” The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, 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 am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat,  with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But, what then?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions . . . Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll into the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

While I may not get to sleep very late–I do greatly enjoy this lifestyle and meaningful work I do here on the farm and in our community. It seems like worthy work. Each and every one of us needs to remember to play more with our kids, take more siestas, and sip good wine and make more music with our friends.

2 Comments on “The Decision to Remain Small

  1. Such truth in your parable! Your plants look so healthy and you look very happy! Aloha. I have visited Hawaii many times and Kauai once–it’s heaven on earth. Blessings.

  2. Perhaps American Capitalism’s most pervasive illusion is: “The bigger you become and the more money you acquire, the happier you’ll be!”

    What makes this temptation to power all the more difficult to resist is our culture’s ringing affirmation of all those who are continuing to do whatever it takes to “make it to the top” of their profession.

    When I was the kind of aspiring author who, in the 1990’s, paid to participate in writers conferences, I was operating under the unexamined presupposition that doing so was “the only real path to becoming a successful (published) author.”

    After hearing one internationally-renowned author begin his keynote address by extolling the virtues of making writing your most important commitment in the universe and making getting published more important than even your most intimate interpersonal relationships, then continue by telling the story of how his commitment to success ruined his marriage (which ended in divorce) and that this represents the totality of commitment we must make in order to succeed in today’s publishing market, I walked out of the last conference for aspiring writers in which I shall ever participate.

    I remain grateful to that “winner” because his honesty forced me to examine a previously unexamined presupposition. After three days of intense grief over the unexpected death of my writing dream, I began to experience a deep peace.

    After fifteen years, striving to become a published author remains near the bottom of my priorities list. The love Carol (my spouse of twenty years) and I share, remains at the top. No commitment shall ever be more important to … us.

    Remain small, Lee. Remain successful. Retain your sense of fulfillment. Never succumb to our economic system’s most pervasive illusion of happiness.

    The most powerful scene in “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy occurs after Frodo looks into Galadriel’s Mirror and has seen one potential (very dark) future. The powerful Galadriel, who has also seen that same potential future and what her role would be in it, graphically reveals to Frodo what she would become should she choose to be the Dark Lord’s Queen. Then Galadriel shudders and gasps and shrinks back down to her true size again and says, “I passed the test! I shall diminish and go into the west.”

    May all of us who are Awakening pass our test and choose to diminish, to remain small.


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