It began in 2016. I traveled to Hawaii, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and California. There were drawbacks to living in a hotel room or in someone’s guest room (like no Vitamix to make smoothies after my run). But there was something so refreshing about living out of a suitcase.
How was it that I felt so rich with so little? From that point on, I made it my mission to simplify my life and find the answer. However, that proved more challenging than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t easy to untangle the things, ideas, and unhealthy relationships that I had accumulated in my life. Nor was it easy to retrain the way my mind perceived money and the stuff it could buy.
There’s a powerful parable that I read around the same time I was traveling around the U.S. and I am constantly drawn back to it. The author of “The Mexican Fisherman” is unknown. And the message, timeless.
Now that I live on Hawai’i Island and see fishermen regularly casting their lines from lava rocks along the shoreline, I realize that the story’s message transcends culture (while admittedly highlighting flaws in the American perspective on success and abundance).
Four years after uncovering this tale, it still challenges me to live simply and find joy in the freedom that brings! So, inspired by our own Hawaiian fishermen, I adapted it to celebrate their understanding of the connection between simply living aloha and true abundance!
“An American businessman was standing at the pier of a quiet, oceanside Hawaiian village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large ahi. The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Not long to get choke fish,” the Hawaiian replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I get plenny fo what my ohana needs,” the Hawaiian said.
“But,” the American then asked, “what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman explained how he slept until the roosters woke him up each morning, fished a little, played with his keiki, watched the sunset with his wife when he was pau, and then sat on his lanai where he talked story with his ohana and strummed his ukulele.
“I live one full life, brah.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, you could buy a bigger boat. And with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory,” he continued. “You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this sleepy fishing village and move to Honolulu then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “Ho brah, how long dis all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 to 20 years.”
“Eh, den what?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an Initial Public Offering and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions? Shoots! And bumbye?!”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep until the roosters wake you up, fish a little, play with your children, watch the sunset, and then sit on your lanai where you talk story with your family and strum your ukulele...”
The Hawaiian fisherman looked up at the American with a smile “No need, brah.”
The moral of the story is clear:
We can choose to complicate our lives, striving and stressing and idolizing production. Or we can find peace and joy in the present. We can live an abundant life with the essentials or lose ourselves in the excess.
The Hawaiian Fisherman’s story reminds us that we can live a life we don’t need a vacation from and choose instead to simply live aloha!