When I was a teenager I came across a 9-panel cartoon illustration that visually told the story of the fisherman and the rich man. I liked it so much I photocopied it and gave it to everyone I knew. Over the years I have often thought of this precautionary tale and its message regarding true wealth and the simple life.
The following is a variation of this story.
A rich man takes a vacation to a tropical beach. He has worked hard all his life and has decided to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He is excited about visiting the island because he’s heard that there is incredible fishing there. He loved fishing as a young boy, but hasn’t gone in years because he has been busy working to save for his retirement.
On the first day he has his breakfast and heads to the beach. It’s around 9:30 am. There he spots a fisherman coming in with a large bucket full of fish.
“How long did you fish for?” he asks. The fisherman looks at the man and explains that he fishes for about three hours a day. The man then asks him why he returned so quickly.
“Don’t worry”, says the fisherman, “there’s still plenty of fish out there.”
Dumbfounded, the rich man asks the fisherman why he didn’t continue catching fish. The fisherman patiently explains that he caught all he needs.
“I’ll spend the rest of the day playing with my children, and talking with my friends. After that I’ll relax on the beach.”
The rich man sees an opportunity to teach the peasant fisherman something about progress.
He explains to him that he should stay out all day and catch as many fish as he could. That would enable him to save up the extra money he makes and buy even bigger boats to catch even more fish.
"You keep reinvesting your profits in even more boats and hire other fisherman to work for you. If you work really hard, in 20 or 30 years you’ll be very rich." The man feels pleased that he’s helped teach the simple fisher how to become rich.
Then the fisherman looks at the rich man with a puzzled look on his face and asks what he is to do after he becomes rich.
The rich man responds quickly “Oh! Well, then you can play with your children, talk with friends, and relax on the beach. And do a little fishing.”