What are your future plans? Many of us plan out our lives into major chapters—I’m going to graduate, start my career, get married, have kids, buy a house, retire, and then I’ll travel and see the world. Or then I’ll do everything on my bucket list. Or then I’ll have time to spend with family and enjoying hobbies.
Having a plan is a good thing, but I want to encourage you to live while you’re alive. We are not supposed to spend the majority of our life getting ready to enjoy the minority of it. I want to share a parable I read recently.
An American investment banker took a vacation to Mexico and was enjoying some time fishing. He noticed a small boat docking, where a single local man unloaded his catch for the day—three good looking fish. The banker, who spoke decent Spanish, asked the fisherman how long it took him to catch those fish. “Only a little while,” the man answered. The banker was puzzled; it was early, and he caught a few fish in a short time, and yet he was calling it a day. Why didn’t he spend the whole day catching even more fish? The Mexican told him he caught enough to take care of his family for the day and to meet his immediate needs.
The American asked what he does with the rest of his time. “I sleep in, spend some time fishing, I take a siesta with my wife, I play the guitar, I play with my children, and hang out with my friends.” The banker couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had an MBA and felt like he should pass on some free advice. “Sir, you should spend more time fishing. Then you can use the extra money to buy a larger boat, then hire a few employees. Then you can afford to buy several boats and hire more people until you have an entire fleet. Instead of selling fish to the middleman, you can sell them directly to the cannery. You’d have to leave this village, of course, and move into the city.”
“Senior,” asked the fisherman, “how long will all this take?” “Oh, fifteen to twenty years. But then you can retire. Sell your enterprise to the highest bidder and walk away.” The fisherman asked what he would do after that.
The American said, “You can sleep in, spend some time fishing, take a siesta with your wife, play they guitar, and hang out with your children and friends.”
Unfortunately that is how many of us spend our lives. Rather than enjoying the small pleasures in life and just being together, we spend time separated because of the countless hours it takes to either plan for the future or fund our lifestyle. Please do not misunderstand me: I am not suggesting that we be irresponsible, and I am not saying that it is wrong to work. But sometimes we need to re-evaluate what we call the necessities. Don’t give your best years to your company; give them to your family. No one on their deathbed regrets spending too much time with their loved ones, but wasting so much time away from them.
“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”