Playing along with the Grasshopper

La cigaleOnce there lived an ant and a grasshopper in a grassy meadow. All day long the ant would work hard, collecting grains of wheat. The grasshopper would look at her and laugh. ‘Why do you work so hard, dear ant?’ he would say. ‘Come, rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here, the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?’ The ant would ignore him: “I am helping to lay up food for the winter, and I recommend you to do the same.” (The Ant and the Grasshopper)

Do you remember Aesop’s Fable? It has been used to teach children the virtues of hard work and the perils of improvidence. Moral: it is wise to worry about tomorrow today.

Life teaches you a completely different lesson. From families to corporations to nations, the grasshoppers always have the upper hand. The savings of the cautious and toilful people will be decimated each and every time it is needed to make up for prodigal sons, failed projects and, yes you’ve got it, ruined banks and states.

While most people would surely acknowledge that it is wise to anticipate and worry about the future and they will encourage you to save for the future, you won’t see many artists, conquerors, entrepreneurs or innovators actually worrying about the future in that precise way you are expected to do in Aesop’s fable. They are more like the grasshopper. And what nobody will tell you is that you are not expected to be saving for yourself, but to pay for those other people’s debts and failures, the ones deriving from creation, conquest, and sometimes pure insouciance.

And here comes my recommendation: if you have the courage, do not save for tomorrow. Be the grasshopper!

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la Cigale 1872Featured Image: Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, Detail of The Grasshopper (La Cigale) painted in 1872

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