What would we do if we won the lottery?’
How I decided to go on a Sabbatical
Caterina Kostoula
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You already won the lottery, you just don’t know it. The Brazilian fisherman parable (sometimes told as a Mexican fisherman) is a nice little piece of fiction by Heinrich Böll and was originally about a tourist who meets a fisherman on the west coast of Europe. It has likely been geographically transposed in order to better conform to current notions of an exotic “other”. Like “magical negro” narratives, the story relies on an overly simplistic stereotype in which rich white people benefit from the simple folk. Those types of stories, however inspiring they may be to the well-heeled MBA or the person in a job that gets a one year maternity leave, help reinforce complacency towards the poor, cause — hey! — look how happy they are with their simple lives. They’ve got it figured out, so let’s move to a beautiful island and maybe buy some fresh fish from a guy who probably works his ass off while the people on leave do yoga. I’m not saying that your life choice is wrong. On the contrary, it sounds like a great way to recharge for those with the means to do it. I’m just saying that the romanticization of an exotic other is as real as the “It’s a small world ride” at Disneyland.