Note: The original story is written by Heinrich boll and is named “Anekdote zur senkung der arbeitsmoralit” it is a beautiful anecdote which made me re-think certain events in my life. I really like this story so I made a small adaption with a forester instead of a fisherman. A forester who lives in peace and collects only what he needs. The original story has seen many adaptions over the years, but hopefully you will enjoy this one.
Heinrich boll is a phenomenal writer from the 20th century, if you like this story please check out the book where it came from: The Stories of Heinrich Böll
Anecdote – The Forester and the tourist
Somewhere in eastern europe, where most forests are still untouched. There laid a man on his porch. The man was wearing some what old and shabby clothes. It was near fall and the mushrooms were growing fondly.
A smartly dressed tourist is putting a new color film into his camera to take a photograph of the idyllic scene: blue sky, green sea with peaceful, snow-white crests of waves, black boat, the fisherman’s red cap. Click. And again: click, for the second time.
The dry and almost hostile sounds wakes the dozing forester, who sleepily sits up and reaches for his cigarette-packet. Before he finds what he is looking for, the eager tourist holds out a packet right under his nose, putting the cigarette not exactly into his mouth but placing it into is hand. A third click, that of the lighter, finishes off the zealous civility.
“You will make a good harvest today” the tourist says.
The forester shakes his head.
“But I was told the forest conditions are favorable”
The forester nods.”
“So you won’t pick today?”
The forester shakes his head, the tourist gets increasingly nervous. He is deeply concerned about the welfare of the man in shabby clothes and frets over the missed opportunity.
“Oh, you don’t feel well?”
Eventually, the forester switches from sign language to spoken word. “ I feel splendid. I’ve never felt better.” He stands up and has a good stretch, as if keen to show off the athletic shape of his body.
The facial expression of the tourist grows more and more unhappy; no longer can he suppress the question that threatens to burst his heart: “But why, then, do you not put to the forest?”
The answer comes promptly: “ Because I already picked my supplies this morning”
“Did you make a good pick?”
“My harvest was so good that I need not put to the forest for a second time. I had a dozen chanterelles in my baskets and found also some oyster mushrooms. I even had time to collect firewood to heat my cabin.”
The forester, finally awake, is now thawing, and slaps the tourist on the shoulder. “I even have enough for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he says to relieve the stranger’s soul. “Do you want a cigarette?”
Cigarettes are being put into mouths, a fourth click; the stranger, shaking his head, sits down on the rim of the porch, and puts down the camera, for now he needs both hands to give his speech emphasis.
“ I do not want to meddle in your personal affairs, but just imagine if you harvested from the forest today and the day after tomorrow, indeed, on every favorable day two, three, or perhaps four times – do you know what would happen?”
The forester shakes his head.
“In a few months at the latest you would be able to buy a chainsaw, in two years a forestry machine, in three or four years you may, perhaps, have a sawing mill; with a operator for the forestry machine, of course, you can expand your business with time – one day, you would have two forestry machines, you would…,” for a few moments his enthusiasm leaves him speechless, “you would build a ware house for expansion, soon afterwards exporting to other nations, driving around in your own SUV, making observations for good timberr giving orders to your fleet of forestry machines by radio.
You could buy the timber rights for surrounding forests, export timber directly overseas without a middleman – and then…,” once again his enthusiasm leaves the stranger speechless. Shaking his head, saddened in the depth of his heart, and almost bereft of his holiday delights, he looks on the stream rippling peacefully around the boulders, where the uncaught fish jump merrily.
“ And then,” says he, but again his excitement leaves him speechless. The forester slaps him on the back. “What then?” he asks in a low voice.
“Then” says the stranger with quiet enthusiasm, “Then you may relax here in the forest with your mind set at ease, doze in the sunshine – and look out on the magnificent mountains.”
“But that is what I am doing just now,” says the forester.“ I relax here at my porch with my mind set at ease and doze. Only the clicking noise of your camera disturbed me.”
The tourist, thus put right, became pensive. There remained in him not a trace of pity for the forester in shabby clothes – only envy.
The forester is free and he enjoys every moment of it. He knows what is enough and makes the best of it’s day. The forester for me is someone who knows what the life has to offer.
We certainly do not have to abandon our office job and buy a cottage in the woods to live like the forester. But we can be glad with the people and things around us and take time to look back. Observe where we stand and where the journey will take us.
And off course, don’t forget to enjoy every moment of it.