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The Limitations of Having Goals: A Story Set in Patzcuaro, Mexico

Posted on June 30, 2009 by: Lisa Koss

This month, I was with my husband in Salamanca, Mexico, not far from Celaya or Morelia, for the wedding of a dear friend. The ceremony and celebration were big fun, and the following day we went sightseeing in Patzcuaro, Mexico, in the state of Guanajuato.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Patzcuaro — world famous for its celebration of Day of the Dead, as well as for its fabulous ice cream. (Try the caramel ice cream, or “pasta” flavor.) This little town has a large, lovely square with enormous trees and park benches, lots of green space and very neat and tidy. There are big verandas in front of the shops that line the square, giving plenty of space for café tables, wandering window shoppers, and the occasional sidewalk vendor.

Patzcuaro also happens to be the former town of residence of the people we were with (the parents of the groom) when they were a young couple. That afternoon, while enjoying a lovely lunch on the square, Ramón told us a story…

Many years ago on the square, out goofing around with friends, Ramón saw an old woman sitting on the far side of the square. She was selling peaches. The group felt a bit sorry for her and spontaneously decided to offer to buy all of the peaches she was selling so that she could go home and rest. So they approached her and stated that they wanted to buy every single one of the peaches.

However, they were surprised and baffled when they heard her response and explanation:
“Absolutely not,” she said. “Why?” the group asked incredulously. And after a pause she responded,”Because what in the world would I do tomorrow?”

OK. I just love this story. It pulls my brain and heart in several directions. One direction calls me to consider what happens to all of us when we have goals, but we don’t have a vision for ourselves. Toward what do my goals lead me? Without a long term plan, we can’t even conceive of what would happen if we suddenly achieved our goal 100%.

Goals seem easy: both setting them, and achieving them. Most of us have lots of practice on this. But vision is tough. A vision, by definition, leads to something bigger than oneself. It requires us to see ourselves as capable of anything, to dream big and to not be afraid to achieve it.

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