This month I’d like to share my story which is to do with our “values” in life.

What do you value? Now look at your behaviour – does this reflect your values or do you need to make some changes? There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and wanting more, but let’s not forget the simple pleasures in life, for if we do, we may find ourselves ending up with less – not more.


 To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success!    Henry Ford 

fishermanOne day as the sun was rising, a simple fisherman walked along the beach to his usual place on the rocks. He sat down on the large rock closest to the sea, took a thermos flask out of his bag, poured himself a cup of coffee and  took a cheese and tomato sandwich out of the wrapper.

 “What a feast!” he thought, “and just look at that sunrise!” And for the millionth time he had his breakfast in the open on the rocks on the beach watching the sun come up. When he had thoroughly enjoyed the sunrise, he stood up, took his fishing rod out and prepared to cast into the water. “It’s going to be a good day!”

At the same time in the same town, a rich businessman stirred in his sleep, opened one eye, saw the time, turned over and tried to go back to sleep. “I’m on holiday” he thought, “I don’t have to get up at this time”. Even if he wanted he couldn’t have, he realised − he had a cracking headache and a foul taste in his mouth and a very uneasy feeling in his stomach. Too much drinking, smoking and eating rich foods last night − the memory slowly came back to him. Then he smiled − he also remembered that sexy brunette at the party − wow − they had really hit it off and he had managed to get her phone number. Of course he was not actually going to phone her, I mean he was happily married wasn’t he? But still, she was really cute and coming on quite strong he thought − it made him feel good − more masculine, more well…everything in fact!

 “I’ll sleep a couple more hours, then I’ll feel better” and so he drifted back off to sleep.

After a couple of hours the simple fisherman went on his way back home. But first he stopped to help dear old Mrs Toms whose cat had climbed up the tree again and could not get down. Then he bumped into a neighbour and enquired after her husband. On hearing he was ill, the fisherman decided he would go into the town, buy him a newspaper and some boiled sweets and then visit him in the afternoon. Old Bill enjoyed doing the crossword puzzles − that would cheer him up. By the time he got home, his wife was already working in the vegetable garden. He made her a nice fresh lemon and ginger drink and told her to sit in the shade and have a rest. Then he took off his jacket and got stuck in himself.

The rich businessman’s hand shook slightly as he shaved − all that alcohol was still in his body and he did not feel that steady yet. “Ah well, a strong cup of coffee, some sausage and eggs would make him feel better!”  When he was dressed and ready to go down to the dining room he glanced at his cell phone − should he phone his wife? Maybe later, he thought − he didn’t feel like a long conversation now and he didn’t really have anything much to say. The kids wouldn’t miss him or bother to talk to him either − they were almost like strangers to him these days − but that wasn’t his fault − blooming teenagers these days − thought they knew it all − heaven knows what they get up to? Miriam just did not seem to have much control over them − she was so weak in many ways….

He went into the dining room to breakfast.

FamilyThe simple fisherman worked hard in the vegetable and herb garden for a few hours, then sat down resting against a tree in the shade. He felt relaxed and peaceful inside. He also felt so grateful for having a family, a comfortable home and a healthy body so he could work and put food on the table. His fifteen year old son Trevor came up to him. “Dad, can I talk to you?”

“Of course,son! What’s on your mind”. And he patted the ground next to him and listened intently to his son. Soon after his ten year old daughter came to him. “Dad, please play bat and  ball with me − you promised yesterday you would?”

“So I did − let’s play. Trevor can join us.” So the three of them took turns hitting the ball. Then mom brought them drinks to the garden and sat with them while the sun started going down. “Lets go in and have dinner now” she said after a while.

The rich businessman wondered into the cafeteria to buy some cigarettes. When he was pocketing his change, he saw the cashier had given him too much back. “Well it’s her own stupid fault”, he muttered and walked off. “Why are people so careless? They should pay more attention and then it would not happen!”  As he was crossing the road to go to the shops, a car sped past, the driver hardly seeing him, and nearly banged into him. “Idiot!” the man yelled, but the car was already in the distance. He walked restlessly around the shops, but after ten minutes started feeling a little bored and restless. “Maybe it was time for a drink?” He looked at his watch. “Perhaps a little too early especially after last night.” Well, he’d have to amuse himself for a little while until the business meeting later on and then it was dinner and drinks again and perhaps that cute brunette.

Suddenly he felt hot and overdressed and miserable. “Why did his company have to come here for five days?” he thought. “Why couldn’t they have held their conference in some more exciting place where there was something going on − I mean this is a ruddy fishing village for Pete’s sake!”

The simple fisherman and his family sat down to their humble meal of thick vegetable soup and bread and homemade apple pie. This evening there was also another couple with them − their neighbours were sharing their meal as the husband had been out of work for a while − so they all sat down and said thanks to God for the meal with much appreciation from the neighbours who had brought some apples from their fruit tree for desert. The simple fisherman and his family felt happy and good inside to be able to share with the other couple. After the meal, they all helped clean up and enjoyed tea and apple pie. Then they turned on the radio and listened to some music − it was a good evening!

businessmanEventually the rich businessman’s meeting was over. “Finally!” he said to his business friends “Hell, that Frank is so boring, I thought I was going to nod off to sleep for a moment − now I’m ready for some action! Where should we go?” And off they went to some restaurant and pub where the drinking started. He would phone his wife later and maybe speak to the kids as well he thought. He just needed to unwind a bit first, then he’d be in a better mood. However, after a couple of drinks, lots of jokes and laughs with the other men, he did not think of phoning his family, he thought only of the cute brunette from the night before and then he remembered he still had her telephone number in his jacket pocket. He reached in and took it out with trembling hands. “No one will need to know” he thought.


The following morning, the simple fisherman watched the sun come up. He was drinking his coffee and enjoying his sandwich. “What a magnificent sunset − how lucky I am to be here!” he thought to himself. After a while he cast his line into the sea and sat quietly just enjoying the sea breeze, the clouds rolling lazily by and the roar of the ocean. He watched how the waves rolled onto the shore − back and forth − back and forth! He sat and fished feeling joyful and content.

“Good morning!” he heard someone yell out to him. It was the rich businessman. “Good morning” he said back to him. The rich businessman ambled over to the fisherman feeling rather pleased with himself this morning. The cute brunette had spent the night in his hotel room and he had just walked her home. On returning he thought he would cross the beach and feeling somewhat sociable, he stopped to have a word with this poor fisherman. “Gee what a struggle this chap’s life must be” he thought,  “no money for anything − living from hand to mouth  − never knowing where your next rand’s coming from,” whereas he − he could buy just about anything he wanted! Funnily enough, that thought suddenly did not fulfil him in any way.

“Caught anything today?” said the rich businessman.

“Yes, two fish, so I’m going home now” answered the simple fisherman. “one for me and one for the neighbour.”

“Poor sod!” thought the rich businessman. “Why don’t you catch ten fish?” he asked?”

“Ten? Why would I want ten fish?”

“Because if you caught ten fish every day, you could sell some and make some money!”

“And then what would I do?”

“Then you could even buy a small boat!”

“And then what would I do?”

“Well then you would catch even more fish!”

“And then?”

“Well then you could hire a couple of men to help you!”

“And then what?”

“Then you’d catch so many fish you could save all your money!”

“And what would I do then?”

“Then you could eventually sell your business and retire!!” said the rich businessman.

“And then what would I do?”

“Well then with all that money!” said the rich businessman, “you could do just what you wanted to do!”

 “But I’m doing that already!” said the simple fisherman, walking off into the distance filled with peace, gratitude and joy for spending another bliss filled day on this earth. 

 “The ideas some folk have!” he laughed to himself.

 Barbara Shepherd  is a holistic life coach and author in Fish Hoek   “ONE STEP at a TIME LIFE COACHING”  website:  She also helps people move and declutter:

Phone  021 782 2098   or   072 437 2810 or email: