I have heard two different versions of the story I'm about to tell. It is not original and if I could give credit where credit is due I certainly would. It is a wonderful story and it fully captures the essence of what real emotional freedom and happiness are all about. I hope I tell it in a way that does the story justice.
In fact, I thought of this story when I heard the wife of a famous hotelier and casino owner being interviewed on a television program once. She said that her husband believed in a "rich kind of freedom as opposed to a poor kind of freedom."
Unfortunately, emotional freedom, does not come in those labeled varieties. It is doubtful she would understand this. At any rate, our story...
Many years ago there was a man named Tom who stumbled onto a quaint Mexican village situated on the gulf of Mexico. He loved the village and it's friendly people. He loved the sun and he loved to fish. At night he would eat and laugh with friends, sing and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Life here was simple. It was fun. He could fish during the day and sell his catch at the market and make enough money to enjoy his life. And so this was what he chose to do.
A year or so after he settled into the village, a friend from the United States came to visit. He was a businessman. He loved to fish as well. Tom invited his old friend to accompany him fishing.
They rowed out to a secret spot about a mile off shore. There in Tom's secret spot, in only an hour or two, they caught three giant yellow fin tuna. They returned to the little village's marina and sold the catch for enough money to live and enjoy Tom's adopted lifestyle comfortably for a week. The man's friend was overwhelmed at how little time they had spent fishing and just how far the money would go.
Tom's friend had an idea. He said, "Tom, I've got an idea. Why don't you get a bigger boat, one that will hold more fish? That way you could catch more fish and make more money."
Tom replied, "Yes and then what?"
"Well, the boat would have a motor, you could get to your spot faster, catch more fish and make more money."
Tom replied, "Yes and then what?"
"Then you could buy more boats, hire employees and catch more fish, and make even more money!"
Tom replied, Wow! And then what?" His friend said,
"Then you could buy the cannery and the market, avoid the middleman, and sell all of your own fish and make even more money!"
And Tom said, "Great and then what?"
"Well, then as you got older you could retire and live happily ever after!"
And Tom said, "That sounds fantastic-what would I do once I was retired?"
His friend pondered what Tom might do then. "Well he said, after you retire, you could sing and dance and be happy with all of your friends."
Tom thought for a moment and replied, "I do not have the responsibility or the worry that comes with all of those things. My life is simple and carefree. I sing and dance and love my friends. That gives me great happiness and I enjoy my life just as it is now. Why should I work so hard to enjoy that which I have found, to try an attain a retirement goal that I have achieved already? That does not make much sense to me."
This is an excellent story that illustrates the gratitude of an emotionally free human being that has found happiness and is living his life exactly as he wants. Tom's friend is emblematic of the greed and wanting that is so much a part of our culture. Our culture covets those that forever want and seemingly acquire happiness and we are rarely satisfied even when we have plenty. Rarely do we express any gratitude as we go about our forever wanting lives. Think about that next time you are at a cocktail party or anywhere else (including work) for that matter. Listen for gratitude, I think you will find it, "oh... so very rare."