It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that we all need some kind of income to survive. It’s unrealistic to say otherwise.
We all swap our precious time in return for income; the question is, what do we choose to spend that hard-earned cash on?
Uruguay’s former president, Jose Mujica, might just be one of my favourite people when it comes to this topic. Bear with me, it’s worth it.
Coined “the poorest president in the world”, Mujica shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provided for its leaders, opting instead to live on a ramshackle farm and give away 90% of his presidential salary. Pretty different.
He gave a speech in 2016 that sums up his austere approach to life. I’ve transcribed the speech below, along with a link to the video. He might be seen as a little eccentric, but what he has to say might make you think a little deeper about what you spend your income on…
…the money you’ve swapped for hours of your life.
We could all learn a thing or two from Jose, so I implore you to invest a little of your precious time reading or watching his speech:
“Either you’re happy with very little, free of all that extra luggage because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere!
I am not advocating poverty, I am advocating sobriety. But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow.
If it fails to increase, it’s a tragedy. We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs, shopping for new, discarding the old…
That’s a waste of our lives!
When I buy something, when you buy something, you’re not paying with money. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money.
The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one's life and freedom that way.” Signed: Big love, Jose Mujica xx
Watch Jose’s video here: Uruguay’s Jose Mujica — the poorest president in the world
Along that same theme, George Carlin (Rufus off’ve Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) talks amusingly about Stuff and things in a classic clip from 1986. Well worth a watch.
Carrying all my “stuff” on my back through India on any day is a sweaty penance for materialism. It’s surprising how little you really need. The most precious things I own are the things I’m not carrying — the experiences, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learnt, and the sense of adventure.
“Invest your money in life, that’s what I say. It’s got the best interest rate going.” Jess Holliday
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have stuff, or should cut ourselves off from the world and lock ourselves away in caves. I obviously have material goals, and we should enjoy them — I’m Swiss Army Jess for goodness sake, I LOVE a gadget — but the external stuff will come and go.
“Reconnecting to who we are at a core level is how we find the answers. One day we have to wake up and listen to our inner guide and ask, what do I really want from my life?” Wake the F#ck Up — Brett Moran
We all have the choice, so choose wisely. For now, I am choosing to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” (H.D.Thoreau). What do you choose?
As I try to remove myself from more and more material stuff, my mind also begins to unwind and I enjoy a lighter mental load too.
Taking everything away and creating a void has allowed me to add back in what really matters, little by little. I know it’s easier said than done, I know it’s idealistic, and yes, I know I’m having a marvellous time in Inj’a right now — by the standards of the real world, I’m “bumming around”. I’m not earning money, but I’m filling my days with a different purpose, even if it is only a very simple purpose. That is not a waste.
A day working hard on something I care about is a day well spent, even if that’s just getting up mid-morning and learning a song on guitar, getting know a stranger, or watching a friend grow — I Thoreau’ly recommend it.
That is all.