You might be wondering why I named my blog “killing the cow”.
In year 2012 I was working in a food processing company, I used to start working before sunrise and ended after sunset, the only time I would see the sun was on Sundays, a day that I would spend cooking and washing clothes. Work was hard, 12 hours shifts standing on our feet, making sure that production goes on, millions and millions of dice paper bottles colliding with one another and making a clinging sound that I remember to this day. We were allowed three brakes; a 15 minute brake after four hours of work; a 30 minute lunch break and a last one of 15 minutes 10 hours on shift. At shift’s end the workers would leave home exhausted and I would stay a little longer to account for the raw materials used and in stock.
I couldn’t say life was good; I also cannot deny life was better. All my previous jobs were far worst so I was thankful for that job.
One day during my lunch break my brother called; after some time talking to him the life topic was discussed.
Me: I cannot believe this is it!
Me: Life; I will work like this until I retire? 40 years left! I just can’t!
My brother, understanding my frustration set task to calm me down by telling me a story which I wrote below; not exactly the way he told it to me, not even in the same language. But the idea is what matters.
The Killing of the cow story.
Looking far in the horizon where the sun sets and the rainbow ends a little village holds place, no roads exist to that place. A small village start its day, the villagers wake up and cultivate the barren land; potatoes and radishes grow in there but they are hard and sour to taste, the effect of poor nitration and lack of nutrients characteristic of poor soils. In the village there was a cow; a malnourished cow who in good days made 20 gallons of milk. The milk was distributed among the villagers at the end of the day.
One day a priest approached the little village, he was looking for the town of La Alberca, but not having roads proved the town impossible to be found. The priest realizing it was late decided to seek shelter in the small village, he first offered one of the elders silver coins in exchange for shelter; but what good does silver do when there is nothing to buy, no knowledge of how to smelt and hence no use for the metal. You can stay here, no need to offer a pay; a simple blessing will do, said the elder.
During dinner, the priest shared bread with the elder while the elder offer some of the milk to damp the bread and potatoes to complement their feast. I come from Catalunya said the priest, I was riding west following the sun in direction to the town of La Alberca; I was following the road until it dead ended and continued galloping for hours when I found this village; I am lost and need to find my way as I am officiating a wedding tomorrow before sunset. The elder explained the priest that he needed to turn right one mile before road end. The priest wanted to do something for this elder but silver was meaningless and so he asked. Please let me do something for you my friend, a token of my appreciation for all your help. The elder asked the priest for a blessing and begged to pray for the village as they were suffering for starvation and disease. The priest, shaken up by the conditions on which the villagers lived, asked the elder what would he sacrifice to see the village thrive; The elder responded that he would trade everything.
The following morning, right before sunset the priest woke up, took the cow to a nearby cliff and push it; the cow died instantly. The priest made his way to the town of La Alberca.
Ten year passed, far in the horizon there was a horse driving a cart who was approaching the town of La Alberca, instead of turning right the driver continued straight. In the cart the priest was unsure they were in the right rout, as he directed the driver he mentioned that there shouldn’t be a road. The road should end here said the priest, this must be a new road. I don’t remember this part. The driver continued through the road and approached a town “Bienvenido a Las Hurdes” read a sign right in the outskirts of the town. While the cart was passing by two little kids approached the cart and the priest asked: Do you know what happen to that little village that was built in this area? the kids responded: there is no such little village but you can ask in that house over there. The priest approached the house and was baffled to recognize the elder from years past. The elder was missing his teeth and sight but recognized the priest when he hear him ask about the village. What happened here? Asked the priest. The elder said: after you left we found that our only beloved cow was chase by wolfs and fell through a cliff; the whole village mourned the loss, we were distraught and desperate; What was there to do? We no longer have our cow. The villagers decided to eat the meat but the meat was to much for them to eat so they went to the town of La Alberca where they exchanged the rest of the meat and the skin for tools to plough the land. These tools were special, we could dig dipper than ever before with them. one day one of the villagers was ploughing the land and felt something hard. A rock that shined in the light was extracted, and another one followed, and another one. It turns out that this barren land lacks nutrients but is rich in silver; with the silver we built more tools and we exchanged those tools for bigger and better machines; we worked hard and more and more resources were made, traded or manufactured; Prosperity followed.
I like this story, I tried to adapt it from a real life story (YouTube video below); doesn’t fit exactly but in the case of the people of Las Hurdes the single one thing that improved their little town was a road. It amazes me how so little can make so much difference. I will let you search how prosperous Las Hurdes became after the road was built.
Most of us are chained to a job, throughout this process we slowly loose ourselves until we turn 65. We then retire and fight disease and boredom for the rest of our lives. A job takes much more than our time, it owns it, it disrespects it, It obliterates it. It destroys our creativity, our ability to make decisions, our capacity of thinking critically. I am sitting here writing this story and wonder if I am wasting my time? So having a job is not wasting your time? You are serving food to someone who you will probably never see again, installing a network for a business that you might not even understand, following orders from people you would never even consider talking to in the first place.
Necessity fosters creativity, a safe good paying job will give you money in exchange not only of your time but your life! that feeling of security makes you lazy, you loose your creativity and very soon you become a machine powering a rat race which every day is harder to escape from.
Today I decided to kill my cow; bye bye workforce! welcome entrepreneurship and new adventures! The only thing I will do is to work for myself; IDK in what yet but I hope I figure something out. And if I don’t then I will live on $2,000 a month forever (hopefully). I prefer to live my life financially limited than not to live my life at all.
Getting back to my personal story, my brother finished this story and I was moved, I wish I can say that that was the last day I worked as an employee but unfortunately it was not. It took me ten more years until I unwillingly was laid off and as I type this I am willingly either retired from the workforce or starting in the entrepreneurship world. I pray that I made the right choices during my working years and that my investment portfolio will meet my countless calculations of safe withdrawal rates. after 20 years of working like a donkey with a carrot tied to my ass it is time for me to live!
So this my friends is the story of why I named my blog killingthecow.com
Any thoughts? Comments? Please watch the Youtube video, the story is very sad but with a truly happy ending.