Monday, July 12, 2010

Life in the Present

Our short idyll last week at the lake reminded me of the short story "Der Hafen" (the translation is very bad, but just readable) by German writer Heinrich Boll:

A fisherman relaxes in the sun in his boat after catching enough fish to provide for two days and does not go out again that day, even though the fish are really abundant.

A tourist cannot believe that the fisherman would do this. The tourist tells the fisherman that with the fish so abundant, he could go out several times a day for several days. If things continued in that way, the fisherman could become a wealthy man with fishing fleets, and maybe a seafood restaurant in Paris.

When he was that wealthy, the tourist tells him, he could retire and lounge in his boat in the sun.

The fisherman reminds the tourist that he is doing exactly that right now. The tourist's vague pity for the poor fisherman turns to envy.

There are many nuances of meaning one could take from this little tale. For me, it's to live fully in the present and to recognize exactly what one has. Idyllic moments are good reminders.

(photo credit)


Pearl said...

I've heard a variant of the story of an exchange between a NYC bum and a stockbroker. success is doing what you want on your terms. keeping busy is some people's terms too.

ChrisJ said...


Agreed, but are busy and driven the same?

askcherlock said...

Chris, these are such positive thoughts. My husband and I believe that this is "our time," a time to savor the moments and enjoy. Life happens in the blink of an eye, so we cherish every moment away from the hustle and bustle and feel no guilt in relaxing. That being said, we are busier now that we were when we had our careers. We look at our watch at some point and it's time for dinner. Two years now, and we are still astonished but delighted.

Hels said...

For me the lesson is that
a] sunshine,
b] fresh air and
c] sea water will cure whatever ails you.

This would include exhaustion, ill health, depression, problems in the marriage, disobedient children, elderly and frail parents, an insensitive boss or poor television programming.

ChrisJ said...


I know what you mean - being absorbed, happy, and interested in life can make time fly. My parents have been retired for 25 yrs and still feel the same way.

ChrisJ said...


Probably helps souffles that don't rise, as well - and all three are free.