Abundance vs Scarcity

I’m finally back from the U.S. I must admit that it has taken me awhile to digest my trip so that I can even write about it.

My basic overall impression of the U.S. vs Ecuador was an Abundance vs Scarcity mentality and experience. The clash of life  between here and there was astounding. Everywhere I went in the U.S. people were talking about scarcity – what they wanted and didn’t have, what they needed and didn’t have enough money for, how they wanted to feel and didn’t.

When I first arrived here in Ecuador I asked someone – as delicately and politely as I could – if Ecuadorians were a depressed people. Before answering, this hotel owner first asked me in return, “Why would you ever think that?” I replied, “Well I see a lot of Ecuadorians at all different times of day laying in their hammocks. I’m wondering if they lie there in the hammock because they are depressed, out of work or -forgive me for saying so, but I really want to understand this – lazy. What is it?”

This man named Felix, laughed and said, “Lazy? No. Depressed? No. Out of work? No. Ecuadorians earn that time in their hammocks. They work to earn it. You Americans really have a poor quality of life. You have a lot of stuff and a lot of money but you are never satisfied with what you have so it means nothing to you. You never have enough. And I know because I lived and worked there in the US until I couldn’t take it anymore and saved enough money to return here to my Home Country. So no. Ecuadorians are pursuing a very different life than you Americans. A full and tranquil life, full of an abundance of family time, hammock time and fun time is what we aspire to.  We have worked hard to earn that time and we truly enjoy every single second of it.”

I was, frankly astounded and honestly didn’t fully believe him when he said what he said back last October. But now that I have lived here for ten months and have taken a trip back to the US in the middle of it, I see that what Felix said is true.

Here in Ecuador, people don’t have a lot but they are happy with what they have. They talk about the tranquil and abundant life. Ecuadorians work only as much as they wish to actually attain what it is they want. If what they want costs 30 hours of work at $2.00 per hour and that work will buy their family – gas enough to get their truck to a day trip to the beach, where they can sit in the water all day together and talk, take a long walk, have a lovely lunch and beers a plenty in a restaurant and simply enjoy each others company – then OK: 30 hours of work at $2.00 per hour it is. Ecuadorians are glad to work those hours. Why? 30 hours of work buys something tangible and meaningful here, even if it is a few hours of rest in their hammock.

When I was in the U.S., people couldn’t make time to visit, they were too busy and stressed out at work. People in the U.S. couldn’t go to a restaurant because it was too expensive and they couldn’t afford it. People were so over extended financially, everywhere I turned, they were losing their homes, their savings and their self respect. People in the U.S. were incredibly distracted with stress and fatigue and their “To Do List.” Some of these people had even become very ill trying to keep up the illusion and fascade of success, buying their lifestyle at the expense of their health and well-being. I could feel it everywhere I travelled, whether it was the West Coast or the East Coast.

When I got back to Ecuador, everyone I knew here wanted to spend hours and hours sitting around over a beer or wine and a meal and wanted to know EVERYthing I had done and seen on my trip. And they weren’t just asking to be polite like I thought at first. They really wanted to know. And they listened and laughed and asked a lot of questions.

That’s when I put my finger on something that had been bothering me. I realized that with very few exceptions, most of my family, friends, colleagues and others in the U.S. had not asked many questions about my new life here in Ecuador. In hindsight, it felt like they really didn’t want to know much about my day to day life here or simply couldn’t relate to what I was doing. Rather, I found myself doing a lot of listening.

My overall observation was that many people I spoke with were so focused on just trying to keep up, they didn’t have any more space within to hear about anything else. Many people were in such a place of personal or professional struggle, they seemed like they couldn’t even consider another alternative to what they were working so hard to maintain.

In fact, one woman who I had thought of as a good friend in the U.S. actually told me that “our friendship has now reached a logical conclusion” as “she was not ever going to travel to Ecuador and I clearly wasn’t coming back to the U.S.” I wasn’t aware that true friendships had geographical boundaries.

So I would have to say that returning back to Ecuador was an enormous relief. Now that we have received our shipping container with all our familiar furniture, rugs, art and kitchen utensils, the place we live really feels more like a Home instead of a rental property.

So if you ask me to choose between a life of scarcity and one of abundance, I’d choose abundance. That life of abundance is here in Ecuador for me.

PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?

WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward

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5 thoughts on “Abundance vs Scarcity

  1. I’m glad your settled and happy to be back to your life in Ecuador. Isn’t that the truth about people in the United States?! In the travels I’ve done I envy those who can spend their day sitting outside their home, gathered with friends, just whiling away a hot afternoon — no better place to be, nothing that has to be done. I asked a similar question to a taxi driver, as you did to the hotel owner. His reply was similar in that he drove the taxi so that he could spend the rest of his time fishing and relaxing at the beach. I asked if he had ever been to the United States and he responded with, “Why would I want to go there when I have paradise here?”. Good thinking, if you ask me. You are living the dream, Mary Anne.

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  2. MA,
    Thank you for your compelling and honest reflections. I have learned (Finally!) to neither fret over, nor spend a lot of time around those who are so absorbed with self that they are seemingly incapable of listening and engaging with anyone else. Sadly, it is becoming the norm with so many…You make a good point about the American obsession with wanting, having, being, and feeling what they don’t. I, for one, am Dying to hear about what took you to Ecuador in the first place, and everything in between. 🙂 We’ll have to figure out the technicalities, my friend.
    P.S. You are right, no geog. boundaries for true friendship. Sounds like a real deep one, that “friend.”

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    • Hi Liz,

      I’m glad I’m not alone in beginning to weed out who the real friends are! I’m learning, as you are, how to not fret nor spend an enormous amount of time with people who have no room for truly being with me and who are not entirely Present. Interesting to see who is left. At the moment, it’s a short list! Time for some more wonderful people to enter my life!

      I’ve been wondering about your question regarding what too me to Ecuador in the first place. I think, in some ways, my Soul was ahead of my conscious head in the decision to make a huge change in my life. I knew deep inside that if I did not begin to make different choices, my life would end up the same as it was….full of personal and financial stress, illness, accidents and depression. I knew I was conscious of things not going well but for a long time I didn’t know what to do to break the log jam in my life.

      My move to Ecuador has many aspects – personal, financial, political, professional. I might have to write a blog on this now that I think about it. For starters, I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to actually live in another country. I am satisfying my curiosity about that being here. As far as finances go, what I live well and securely on here in terms of monthly income a person would be living out on the street in the U.S. Professionally, I needed a break from working for other people and meeting their needs no matter what the cost to my own health and well being. Politically. Well, having worked in politics for the last ten years, I was well aware of how the actual “Truth” wasn’t ever getting to the American people and they were being systematically set up for a huge fall…some might call it crash. I wanted to be in a safe place by the time that happened so I could ride it out. Not the least nor last of it was I met a man who shared my same beliefs and values and world view. We decided to try this adventure together.

      The adventure is unfolding every day. I am eating really well and getting good exercise in a place where there are no toxins in the foods or the air. I am taking the time to really listen and talk in conversation which has given me no end of pleasure and healing. I have slowed way down and have reduced my daily stress to a huge degree. I laugh more and worry less. I meditate more and can finally hear my own Voice in my head rather than hearing constantly how I am falling short, not measuring up or not enough. I am enjoying reading novels again instead of self help and business productivity/achievement books. I am feeling a sense of Freedom for the first time ever in my life (except for the period when I lived and worked in New York as an actress on and off Broadway and was having the time of my life, supporting myself and doing work that I felt really proud of.) Bottom line: I am happy with my decision and my life right now and for the first time ever, I feel regular periods of peace and tranquility.

      I know I can always change my mind and go somewhere else and pursue another dream. But for now this is the dream I am exploring and I am content.

      I have SO much more to say on the subject of why I moved here but for now this I hope answers a little of your curiosity and the question of yours I have been meaning to answer for many months now. THanks for asking me again as I needed to really answer it for myself as well as for you Liz!

      Let’s work out the technicalities on talking live. I can do Skype, LINE, FaceTime as long as there is internet working which does tend to be slow and go on and off.

      Love,
      Mary Anne xoxo

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  3. Hello Mary Anne,

    I have just read your last post and I relate to it so well. Sometimes it’s just nice to know others have the same perspective as you’ve witnessed. When I moved to Australia, most could not understand why I’d leave the USA. It was unimaginable from where they stood. My life was such an adventure – everyday. I tell those stories still with pride and most think ‘why would you live like that?’. We moved the whole family back to Piedmont for about 4 years and life again was very different for my husband… no neighbors just dropping around for a beer, every event was so polished and refined, where as on the land, we all worked our properties (in our casual, dirty clothes) during the day and caught up and shared our stories over a beer. We all did the same kind of work. We could compare techniques, equipment, chemical use, vet knowledge, weather reports, etc… Just as though we were conducting big business meetings in a tower in SF – only different perimeters. City people thought life on the land was so isolated and lonely but it was far from that. When people came over, they stayed – sometimes all weekend. Wealth was in the friendships and the land, not the bank balance. In Piedmont, I know we had dinner parties where both Ross and I soon discovered that people just couldn’t ask about our life on the sheep property because it was so foreign to them. We would offer up stories but they couldn’t laugh at what we laughed at, nor could they add onto the story…and eventually we realized we could not share those stories. If they were trying to listen, we could just see that in order to protect their own choice of how they live, they did not warm to our stories or descriptions of how we lived on the land. I sometimes thing they fear it’s contagious if they ask. Our talks had to be about what they could relate to… and that was the city life in the Bay Area. But over in Australia- their TV shows show so much American culture that the property people could relate to our city stories. They were hungry to learn if Americans are really shooting each other every day on the streets, or do all couples act like the people on Jerry Springer, or do you see movie stars all the time in L.A.- It was fun sharing stories with them. One day I’d like to come visit you in your new ‘home’ and sit around and tell stories.

    Cheers,
    Patty

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    • Oh YES Patty! That’s it exactly! You totally “get it” what I’m saying and experiencing. I absolutely loved your line: “I sometimes think they fear it’s contagious if they ask. Our talks had to be about what they could relate to…” I was starting to wonder that too! Thanks for your description of your experiences!

      And YES please come visit! No Fosters here but we will “blow the froth off a cold Ecuadorian one!” We will have many stories to share for sure!

      Mary Anne

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