A few months ago I was making popcorn balls for my husband and I discovered that my old Betty Crocker cookbook actually had a recipe for making popcorn.
I pointed it out to my husband and we laughed about it. I don’t ever remember needing a recipe for making popcorn. I was quite young when I learned to make popcorn by watching my parents make it – they made it in a pan on the stove – much like the method described in the cookbook.
I think I was probably in my early teens when we got our first electric popcorn popper. It was a metal pan with a plastic handle and a cord to plug it in . You could just put the oil and popcorn in it and let it pop. No shaking required – how convenient was that?
Then when I was a young adult we got a hot air popcorn popper. This machine was so cool. You could pour the popcorn into a small compartment on one side and it would fall down into the middle where the hot air would pop it up and it would fall back down and continuously pop up and down until it became hot enough to pop. Once it popped it was light enough to blow out of the chute on the opposite side and into the bowl you had placed below the chute. This was so much fun to watch, and it was said to be a healthier option since no oil was needed to cook it.
When microwave popcorn came on the market it seems that all other forms of popcorn making became obsolete. We bought the bags that concealed the popcorn, oils and whatever flavoring might be added. We put it in the microwave for a few minutes and walked away, only to return to a delicious treat. Bonus – we didn’t even have to dirty a dish; we could eat it right out of the bag.
We have now come full circle. It’s now been several years since we have bought and made microwave popcorn. We once again buy a bag of unpopped popcorn, get out the stainless steel dutch oven, put in some oil, heat the oil, put in some popcorn, shake the pan a little bit while the popcorn pops, and in a few minutes the popcorn is ready. This is just like I learned from my parents when I was young. The advantages to this are that it is less expensive than microwave popcorn, I do not have to buy and store extra equipment that has only a single purpose, and I know what is in the finished product.
Thinking about all of this made me wonder, over the course of a lifetime how much of our time and resources are spent (or wasted) in search of things to make life better, when in the end we learn that what we had in the beginning was the best option.
I then began thinking about a story that my husband showed me several years ago. We found this story quite inspirational, and I think it has had an impact on many of the decisions we have made in the last few years. I will share it with you.
The Fisherman and the Businessman – a classic Brazilian story.
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village. As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite a few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
I think the world needs both “businessmen” and “fishermen”. We have chosen a simpler life much like the fishermen. I hope that if you too are searching for a simpler life you may find some inspiration here.