Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fisherman's Blues

The truth is, you are not your newest big screen TV, your newest SUV or the bleached blonde with fake tits on your arm. We have been conditioned for years to believe that the "American Dream" is having the newest car, the best house, the tailored suit and the prettiest girl at your side. We have been taught that the more you have, the happier you are.

Happiness is not a private jet, membership to an exclusive fucking golf club or being part of a boardroom where finding new ways to pad the numbers guarantees your next golden parachute when the chips finally fall.

What am I trying to say? I am trying to say that wealth does not equal happiness. Some of the most content people I have known owned next to nothing. Years ago, I worked in a fishing tackle shop where we sold gear to the poorest of the poor and ordered the fanciest equipment for the elite, the 1%. It was always a rat race among the richest to have the newest, the "best" and most advanced equipment. Yet, you know who the happiest person was? It was an older gentleman, who in his 80's, lived on coastal islands and rowed his way from the Carolinas to Florida every winter.

There were many rumors about him, but the consistent one is that he was a son of rich people, a guy that went to WWII or Korea, and came back with PTSD. Supposedly he had money in a trust fund but he lived off the land. Out of all of my customers, he was my favorite in his white rubber boots, long gray beard and the slightly unpleasant aroma which suggested he had slept the last month on a tidal island in a canvas tent.

In 2005, he finally passed on to the other side. He was found in his rowboat 100 miles south. Secretly, I think we all envied him. I still do...


  1. It is easy to overlook the joy in the simple things in life and simplicity in general.

  2. Those who require less are more content, and contentment is nature's greatest gift. I keep thinking that my grandparents and parents ate all the things that we are now told will kill us and they lived relatively disease free until a ripe old age. There must be some other common factor that is damaging people in such numbers. I believe it is stress, which is a difficult factor to quantify, but very real nonetheless.

    My grandparents farmed during the dust bowl, and my parents ran a restaurant during the depression, and I don't believe they experienced the stress that the average person feels in just a single day or week now. Their stress was in seasons and years, not minutes and seconds. We have magnified our misery and it has displaced the things that make us happy. In a "consumer" based economy we are no longer workers, we are the "product". We have transitioned from farmers to being the livestock and have been conditioned to believe it represents progress.

  3. Totally agree. There was a time in my life after I lost my job at Pan Am (still mourning) I had to work mostly min wage jobs. Best time I ever had was being a barista at a coffee shop. Pay was horrible, although the tips were good sometimes, but I became aware that the poorer I was the happier I was. No worries. Today I only work part time (for the last 17 years) at a very good company. No new car, don't live in a McMansion nor do I spend a lot of money. Yeah I do have some vices (computers and such) but generally my wife and I are very happy being in the bottom of the 99.
    Great post.

  4. I live on $810/month from Social Security Disability due to chronic pain. I used to make almost $50,000 a year at a job I hated. I also fly-fish. It is my "other religion". I have more pleasure from working 30-40feet of line in graceful arcs over my head than I ever did when I had all the "comforts" involved in the rat-race. The money I make isn't as good, but I LOVE my boss.