Welcome to Mexico! – May 2017

Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt

A Parable of Wisdom

rodin the thinker 2017


There is a story down here that goes something like this: A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City from there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

I smile at this story, because it reflects a belief I have adopted since moving to Mexico, and that is that Americans have it all wrong. We sacrifice so much for “success” that we end up missing out on what we should be living for. 

It seems that in the USA, people are so focused on making money, that we’ve lost track of what is really important.  Family time has been whittled down to next-to-nothing. Moms and Dads are off to work, and the kids to school. After work and school activities and overtime monopolize time. The family may meet and greet as they come and go each day, but they have to work to find time to even be with one another. 

But family and faith are the priorities for Mexican people. A job is something you do to put food on the table and a home for the family. Even extended family gets into the picture. If someone in the family needs help—the entire family is there to assist. I know of one family where the son needed a car in order to attend college. Everyone pitched in:  Mom, Dad, Siblings, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Many people gave a little, and they were able to get a car. And they will all be there when someone else needs a hand. That’s the reciprocity of family love.

The many Mexicans I encounter on a daily basis are kind, respectful, loving, and giving—even to strangers. There is a genuine caring for people and love of life. They live “in the moment,” embrace each day and love life. It’s my hope the USA can find this again.

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Ojo Del Lago
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