A man lives in a small village just off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Africa. His people have forged their way there for thousands of years. During this time, they have developed very impressive irrigation, hunting, gardening, and other resources and techniques for sustaining a happy and fulfilling life.
Another man, halfway across the world, lives in a high rise flat in downtown Manhattan. Everything he could ever want is accessible right under his fingertips. He doesn’t need to hunt or even cook, as he can eat out. He doesn’t need to worry about his clothes as he can purchase new ones any time he desires. Finally, he doesn’t he have to endure the elements because his environment runs on the highest climate control technology.
The man in the village has no electricity, no climate control, and no means other than oil lamps and candles (fire) to keep him warm and illuminated. He earns his living by taking care of his people. He’s a fisherman, a builder, a hunter, and knows quite a bit about medicine. Although he works hard, he doesn’t mind it because his lifestyle keeps him full of energy and supports a high level of satisfaction.
The man in the flat works for a bank. His morning commute is a short three block walk to his office. His income allows him to have all of the perks in life. He has the latest smartphone, a Mercedes, and every other amenity he could set his mind to. Given his stature, he is a proud man, has supportive friends, and knows how to help others earn money and create the same kind of luxurious living that he has obtained for himself.
Now that I’ve given you a small glimpse of these two men, which man’s life would you rather have?
I want you to really think about this too. Don’t just answer the man in the village because society has taught us to be happier with less, and don’t answer the man in the flat without understanding what it took for him to achieve his level of success.
What I want you to consider are the things that you’re not seeing.
So, consider the hard work the man in the village must endure just to get by, then what it would take to have a lot of money (like the man in the flat) so that you could have the best medical care, the best housing, and something to leave to your children.
The point of this entry is expectation vs action, as well as the perspective that comes with this awareness.
I came up with this scenario a couple of years ago when my wife and I planned to camp out in a tent on our property. (which we do from time to time, but this was just one individual night)
It sounded like a great idea because everything we needed was within a hundred feet. I imagined the experience sleeping outside in the elements, the moonlight glowing through the fabric, and the naturalistic experience (or illusion) of having less amenities.
But the kicker, was that I decided not to because of a single thought. That thought, was the comfort of sleeping in my own plush king sized bed vs the hard ground of the front yard.
This created the realization that not all things we intend, will work out the way we plan or assume. In other words, it showed me the truth of false assumption. Kind of like asking which man’s life would you rather have?
One lifestyle may sound more favorable to you, but we need to consider all of the possibilities, as well as what moves us personally.
So, let me ask you the same question, but another way.
“Which man’s life would you rather have if the power went out….forever?”
The point, is that one man’s life would go unchanged. He would continue to live the way he had been living his entire life. He would get his food the same way, his water the same way, and engage with his family and loved ones the same way.
But for the man in the flat, his life would be over.
Or would it?
Many years ago this question would recommend (if not demand) a single answer.
“I choose the man’s life in the flat because……”
“I choose the man’s life in the village because…..”
But in this day and age, we can actually have both.
We can learn to work with our hands as well as with our minds.
We can live like the man in the village, but with the same financial education and/or freedoms of the man in the flat.
Opposite of this, we can learn to live like the man in the flat, by simply understanding the knowledge and experience of the man’s life in the village.
(I do this with my stories.)
So much has changed for us. Not only do we have access to just about everything we can imagine, but we also have the opportunity to choose which of those things serve us the most.
Once again, I ask you.
Which man’s life would rather have?
My answer, is both.
Last week over 120 Tessera members and myself embraced a new perspective of Tessera called Oracle. What I’m quickly learning through this work, is that it’s not just about achieving something, it’s about seeing everything.
Although we’ve just begun, I am noticing more and more opportunities throughout my day. I for one, am looking for new experiences each and every moment. I don’t want to sleep on a cold floor, but when I do, I do so with the memory of a warm bed.
And to able to know and embrace both, is to be content with all.
Image by Aurelijus Žemgulis