One Hundred Years of Solitude And The Privileges of Simplicity

This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a fascinating parable of society, wild and magical and disturbing. A man sets out into the jungle with his friends and family and founds a town in splendid isolation. The novel follows the fortunes of this family and their town over the course of one hundred years.

In this, my favourite quote of the novel, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, son of the town's founder, is reminiscing about the best days of his life, many years before when he had been a simple metalsmith creating golden fish in a tiny studio behind his house:

He had had to start thirty-two wars and had had to violate all of his pacts with death and wallow like a hog in the dungheap of glory in order to discover the privileges of simplicity almost forty years late.

The Colonel himself might be a parable for own society. How many wars do we have to start, how much wallowing in the dungheap of glory before we discover the privileges of simplicity?

I love the term 'privileges of simplicity'. Simplicity is not regarded with great enthusiasm generally. It is mostly seen as a state in which we choose to go without something we might otherwise have rather enjoyed. Like ease, convenience, nice things.

But what are the privileges of simplicity? Well, for me, what I aim for in seeking simplicity is peace of mind. Living simply on less means not worrying so much about money. It means having time to pursue creative projects, stand in the vegie garden and daydream, and drink tea with my friends. It means deciding that 'wallowing in the dungheap of glory' will not be a life aim, which then means that my ambitions can be purely for my own entertainment. Nice.

In respect to the wider world, the privilege of simplicity for me would be not being morally responsible for wars, famines, corruption, or death, ill health or miserable lives for other people so that I can have ease, convenience or nice things.

The privilege of simplicity for nations would mean giving up our hysterical attachment to growth, not sending our citizens off to war on a regular basis for reasons of empire or oil, living within our means and not giving a damn about cutting a figure on the world stage.

Mind you, a nation of folks quietly going about their business and doing whatever interests them for its own sake, and not in thrall to governments, banks or corporations would be a mighty thing.

Anyway, enough of grandiose philosophical visions, let's talk about me. This week I received an email informing me that an article I submitted has been accepted for publication in the Spring edition of Earth Garden, one of my favourite magazines ever! Can you imagine my state of extreme excitedness?? The article is about edible weeds, which I love particularly at the moment, as my garden is a complete wilderness, but has produced an enormous crop of chickweed, which I am making into lovely, lovely pesto. Happy days all round :)


Hazel said…
Congratulations on having the article accepted- fantastic news! And I'm with you in appreciating edible weeds. :-)

I've never read 100 years of Solitude although it's been on my to-read list for years. Must bump it up the list.

The privilege of simplicity reminds me of the story of the Mexican fisherman It doesn't mention the damage our drive for more does but it does make you wonder why.
Jo said…
Hazel, that is a great story - exactly, hopefully most of us could manage, by living with less, to live more :)
Anonymous said…
Woo hoo! Congratulations. Your blog readers know your writing is engaging and personal and informative and inspiring and encouraging. So glad others are publishing your writing.
Anonymous said…
Great news. So glad that many others will be able to appreciate your wonderful writing.
Regards, Specks.
Jo said…
Lucinda and Specks, thank you :)
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Congratulations. Earth Garden magazine is a long running magazine with a noble heritage. Respect for getting into print.

Don't you reckon that pursuing simplicity also frees the mind and energies? That is the path of purpose. Whilst we are getting all philosophical, I reckon accepting limitlessness is a form of distraction and loss of energies. Dunno. It's deep, that's for sure.

Cheers and congrats again!

Jo said…
Chris, yes, I get to join you as an Earth Garden author!!

I like your comment - "It's deep." Seems to cover everything:)

But I do agree. When you set limits on on what you will do, you are forced to be creative. If I say I won't use plastic, then I am forced to use creativity and energy to come up with solutions, at the same time as resolving all sorts of energy-sapping daily incidents where I accumulate plastic and then feel bad about it. That is the mind freeing part.

Or if I decide to not buy new things, then almost all the shops are basically off-limits, so my life is much simpler and I can put my energy into coming up with alternatives. That is a very elegant way of framing the discourse. Thank you!
GretchenJoanna said…
Oh, I'm so happy about the Earth Garden article!! And intrigued by your chickweed pesto!
stenote said…
Good article.. keep up the good work.... May I share an Interview with Gabriel Garcia Marquez (imaginary) in

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