Less Is More

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I always thought that when my daughter became a teenager, she would need my physical presence less. When I dropped her off at her first day of middle school, and saw the eighth grade boys that looked like men, I had a feeling, that I got it all wrong. I realized during those first few weeks of junior high school, that while my daughter was physically able to take care of herself and watch herself, that emotionally things were just beginning.

I realized that with teenagers, you need to be available, and present, and spend time with them, if you want them to share their world and their hearts with you. Teenagers are impulsive. When they want to talk or share it's not something that will wait for YOU. You're either there, or they are texting their best friend.

The idea of my physical presence still being so important, presented a problem for me, because I needed to figure out a way to make more money or so I thought. My original plan was to hold on, until junior high. Then I could get a full-time job to go with my two other jobs.

I came across this story, and it changed the way I looked at things, and helped me to make a decision that has benefited my daughter and I more than any amount of money ever could have. I thought you might enjoy it.

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

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I realized that my daughter and I already had everything we needed. Minus some material things, we had a great life. I am a work at home mom to my daughter, and we live in Huntington Beach, California. Being home with my daughter has always been the number one priority for me. I actually have created the life that I always wanted, and it did not require a lot of money. So, at this point in Brianna's life, the only thing she might be missing is that big house with a pool in the backyard.

I think we, like the Harvard MBA man in the story, tend to go about life backwards, and we give up the things that truly matter most, for what appears to matter most. I have learned, that less is more when it comes to material things, and that spending my precious time away from my daughter, working more to buy things that won't last, is a waste of my time right now. I have two years left until my daughter leaves for college, and I don't want to miss a moment of it.

"When I get to the end of my life, and I ask one final, "What have I done?" Let my answer be: I have done love." - Jen Pastiloff.