The American and The Fisherman

Second deep blog post this week. I was talking to the Executive Director about the idea that in America, we generally “postpone” happyness for that magical day when we retire, for that day when our 401k hits the millions and we can spend our waking hours (after the age of 65) golfing and traveling.  All not bad things, but what do we sacrifice when we are young to get there?

Then, he told me a story. A young Guatemalan was standing knee-deep in the water of one of Guatemala´s pristine lakes (I am going to imagine it was Lake Atitlan) and fishing.  Hour after hour sitting in the shade, standing in the cool water, occasionally taking a dip in the lake.

Later, an American guy saw him on the side of the lake, and asked him why he was wasting his time.  The young Guatemalan was smart, business savvy, and if he invested his time and money wisely in his bakery, he could go far in the world.  Instead of fishing, the American explained, he should be working, and the American began to describe what could be this young man´s five and ten year plan: working hard, opening two, maybe three bakeries in the surrounding towns, hiring additional workers, and making a bunch of money.

“To what end?” The young man replied. The American began to explain to him the concept of retirement and of savings so that he would no longer have to work in his old age. So that the young man could be happy and then fish all he wanted when he got older.

The young, Guatemalan man replied, “Why? I am very happy and as you can see, I am already fishing”.

So, my question is: what is holding us as Americans back from doing what we love, what we want to do now? Why aren´t we too fishing on the shores of Lake Atitlan?

Three articles worth reading about microfinance:

Kiva Criticisms

The Reply by Kiva Founder Matt Flannery

In regards to SKS and Yunus

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