This phrase was made famous by George Wither's Motto, published in 1621. Wither (1588-1667) was a satirical poet in his younger years, and also the author of religious poetry, becoming a Puritan in his later years. You can read some of his poetry at the RPO website at the University of Toronto.
I have a great personal fondness for this motto, as it expresses a thought that seems to me very neglected in our society, which assumes that getting more and having more is the solution to all life's problems. This saying declares exactly the opposite of that materialistic and acquisitive philosophy: I don't have it, I don't need it, and I don't care about it. This is the positive sense of "not caring," in the sense of being without worries, without concerns, without troubles - not in the sense of being careless or uncaring, but rather "carefree."
Every year, as the frenzy of Christmas shopping reaches its annual crescendo, the international Buy Nothing Day attempts to persuade people to stop and think, instead of shop. You can read more about last year's Buy Nothing Day at the AdBusters website. It seems to me admirably sane. AdBusters are also the promoters of TV Turnoff Week... but that is a topic for another time! I'm sure, though, that George Wither could have modified his motto to sing the praises of life without television as well!
And here is today's proverb read out loud:
1553. Nec habeo, nec careo, nec curo.
The number here is the number for this proverb in
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