November 17, 2014

Who Wouldn't Want Lots Of Stuff?

Pepe at home on the farm with his beloved three legged dog Manuela and old VW Beetle.
Once while discussing simple living with a family member I was asked, "Who wouldn't want lots of stuff?" It is a good question seeing as an increasingly large group of humans are choosing to participate in the apparent abundance of consumerism.

Why don't we seem able to acknowledge the limits of nature and stop consuming when we achieve the sweet spot of the Goldilocks Zone? Not too much stuff, and not too little - just enough. We seem to like too much everything.

We act as undisciplined children let loose in a candy shop. But not everyone is making those choices. Yes, it may be a small group, but I like to think that it is growing as our ecological awareness grows.

"Who wouldn't want lots of stuff?" Besides myself, I can think of many others. There have always been simple living role models, and they still exist today.

One of my current favourite simple living inspirations is President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, or Pepe as he is affectionately known by his people.

Despite the perks that come with his office, the only vehicle Mujica uses is his old Volkswagen Beetle. He lives in a three room farm house owned by his wife rather than in the cushy presidential palace, and he donates a large part of his salary to charity.

Pepe does not want the consumer lifestyle.

“I slept for many years on a prison floor, and the nights I got a mattress, I was happy. I survived with barely nothing. So I started giving great importance to the small things in life and to the limits of things. 
If I dedicate myself to having a lot of things, I will have to spend a great part of my life taking care of them. And I won’t have time left to spend it on the things I like – in my case, politics. 
“So living light is no sacrifice for me – it’s an affirmation of freedom, of having the greatest amount of time available for what motivates me. It’s the price of my individual freedom. I’m richer this way.”

Having lots of money and things does not mean you are rich, or free. What if the opposite is true?


  1. Hooray for Pepe! Stuff drags you down...

    1. Charlotte,

      True, and Pepe knows it. As do we.

  2. Recently I posted how my husband removed a soffit from atop some wall cabinets which opened up the spacial feeling of the room. Two readers thought it was a great space to create a vignette of pretty things. I saw the space as beautiful empty space! If I put pretty things up there, then I have to get on a ladder out every so often to clean them and dusting is my least favorite chore. Most people see empty space as something that needs decoration. I'm trying to resist that notion.

    1. Clamco,

      We visited our neighbours the other day. Their home is a mirror image of ours (in a duplex), but they have way more stuff than we do. Boy, did it ever seem small in there. When we got home I appreciated all our space even more.

      Good for you for resisting and not cluttering the empty space. I think empty space in a home is like green space in a neighbourhood. Plus I don't really do dusting.

      Congratulations on your new home - how very exciting. I love the big tree in the front yard. I am sure your family will be happy in your new location.

  3. Anonymous11/17/2014

    The tide does seem to be turning. There seems to be more people asking me about why I choose simplicity and how they may begin the process.

    Even the new catholic pope seems to be embracing a form of simplicity. Think of the influence he can have around the world.

    1. Miss Marls,

      How wonderful that people are curious about your simple life. It is a great opportunity for spreading the word of living happily with less, and leaving a smaller footprint.

      Pope Francis does indeed seem to know about the benefits of simplicity. It would be nice to see the Catholics return to their roots in simplicity.

  4. Anonymous11/17/2014

    "No frills, no motorcade, no palace." I immediately searched Mujica after reading your post and was tremendously moved by what this man has accomplished in his little country in the past five years. One article talked about how far he has reduced the number of people living below the poverty line, crushed the number living in extreme poverty, increased investments, is installing wind farms to take care of 30% of energy needs, legalized abortion and marijuana and donates 90% of his income to charity. Your post, Gregg, followed by the research it inspired me to do has made my day. Bravo.

    1. People like Pepe should get more press. Glad your research was fruitful - thank you for sharing your results as they are impressive.

      Mujica and his wife are wonderful role models for those wishing to live more rationally on planet earth.


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