You probably have heard the story about the fisherman and the schmick and slick businessman who comes to his village. The businessman is on holiday, taking some downtime to recharge his batteries so he can whirl himself back into the tarnished-but-yet-still-standing glittery world of his Wall Street job. The businessman sits on the beach, resisting the urge to check his phone to see what his stocks are doing, his head whirling with the strange combination of agitation and boredom that rules his life and of which he is entirely unaware. As he watches, a villager drops anchor and pulls his small boat ashore, takes out the two large fish he has caught, and begins to walk his way up the squeaky white sand.
“Hello,” the villager greets the businessman as he comes level with him. They begin a conversation. The villager is curious about the businessman and his life. He asks him strange questions. The businessman finds them curiously childish.
“What does your life smell like?” the fisherman asks.
“What is the light like where you live?”
The businessman doesn’t know how to answer this type of stupid question. He fumbles his way through the answers and then, to cover the slight embarrassment he doesn’t know he is feeling, changes the subject. He gestures to the villager’s hand holding the two oily tuna.
“How long did it take you to catch those?”
“Oh, not long,” the fisherman shrugs.
“Why didn’t you fish for more?”
“I don’t need more. This is our dinner.”
“Well, then, so what do you do with your time?”
The fisherman stops and ponders for a minute, as if this isn’t something he thinks about much. “Well, I sleep as much as I need to, I play with my children, I ravish my wife, I go into the village and play music with my friends. When we get tired of playing music we set up elaborate domino displays and knock them all down after dinner. We draw big mandalas on the sand and watch the waves came in to lick them up.”
The businessman sees where he may be of use to this man.
“I’m a very successful businessman. I’ve made millions of dollars. You know what I would do if I were you? I’d spend more time fishing. Then I’d sell the extra fish I catch and buy a bigger boat. From there I’d keep expanding, and buy another boat. Soon, there will be a fleet of boats and people working for me. Then I would open a factory and sell my produce around the world. It’s possible I would have to move to a large city to manage my factory. After a certain time, I would sell the factory and make millions.”
The fisherman squeaks his toes into the sand. “And how long do you think this would take?”
“Oh, 10, 20 years.”
“And what would I do after that?”
“Oh! Well! Then you will be rich! You will be able to retire, sit back, enjoy your life, maybe buy a boat for pleasure. You will be able to sleep as much as you need to, play with your grandchildren, ravish your wife, go into the village and play music with your friends. When you get tired of playing music you will be able to set up elaborate domino displays and knock them all down after dinner. You will draw big mandalas on the sand and watch the waves come in to lick them up.”
I have just spent five nights away exploring a tiny stretch of Western Australia’s coastland, from Perth down to Bunbury and Margaret River. To travel is to reduce to the basics – food and shelter, exploring the local terrain, doing what is pleasurable, restorative. Nothing else needed. Travelling is closer to the true state of things, though that idea feels too good to be true. It reminds us of what just being in the world feels like, foot to sand, a respite from the hustle, the need to expand your portfolio, to grow your market share, to strive to earn your piece of the disappearing dough in the trickle-up economy.
The being-here-now is the real world. That other one that rules our days, it is the illusion. That other one is killing our earth. And it is dying. May it die before our earth does. Cheers to what comes after.
This is my contribution to The Daily Post’s Write Here, Write Now prompt to write a post entirely in the present tense. It is also my very first post here. Though there’s nothing mystical about the first new days of a Gregorian calendar, still, a new calendar gives a sense of newness to the air. A fresh start, a resolution-free zone.