What is simplicity? Is it a simple dress, jeans, and T-shirt? Is it a bare wooden table with a loaf of bread, some butter and salt? Is it going for a walk in the neighbourhood? Is it building a house with the right amount of space and the appropriate plumping? Is it a one-line drawing? Or is it the way you think through a complicated project, taking one step after the other?
It may be all that and yet something else…
Simplicity seems to be something from the beginning. Talking about ancient times it is easy to see a simplicity in the way our ancestors lived. But what do we really know? We know that they had to eat, to drink, to protect themselves and care for the children. We can tell what they ate and how they dressed. But ritual and loyalties, the flourishes of everyday life and interactions, are not to be found at gravesites.
We don’t know the birthing songs and rites of passage they had.
Yes, the clothes and the meals were simple, as were their dwellings. But I am sure that not all of them enjoyed simplicity in their ways of creating their lives. There is always this one aunt, you know the one, that keeps decorating the house with artificial flowers and tassels and probably glitter. There is always this one uncle that dresses differently, has some very peculiar eating habits and generally stands out.
Because humanity is diverse.
And yet I am convinced of one thing: in every human being’s life there is an area where they enjoy simplicity. It might be their clothes, their house, their work, their speech, or their hairstyle, it does not matter. And it is not about investing energy, for keeping something simple can be a highly sophisticated and energy and time-consuming undertaking! Think about writing a poem, so sweet, so short, and yet so dense and heavy with meaning. This takes time in the making. A nice simple broth in winter takes some hours, and a simple line drawing can be the triumphant end of many preparing sketches.
So, simplicity can be a beginning and an end.
Of course, it can be a means to an end as well. Trying to teach someone anything requires for you to break it down in the most basic elements, using the simplest words and actions to build up slowly.
And every admirer of beauty knows about the singular luxury of the simple cashmere sweater, the simple linen dress, the spotless white marble, the immaculate black velvet, the single candle on the wooden table…
There is simplicity and simplicity.
If you do not have much money to spend on frills and decorations the austerity of the environment may depress you for it reminds you of the situation. If you have the money, you might choose the same simple environment because it gives your mind space, rest, and freedom. There’s nothing wrong with frills and glitter and lots of cushions! I myself feel most at home in my tiny Wunderkammer, filled to the brim with colours and things. My mind finds the space it needs in looking out of my window to the horizon. Had I not the possibility to see the landscape and the sky, I would have to seek that kind of simplicity somewhere else.
Simplicity can be found inside and outside.
Some people enjoy the simplicity of baking in contrast to their work in a highly digitalised and complex society. Some people enjoy reading or writing deceivingly simple texts for the same reason. Others might only allow black and white into their homes (maybe with a dash of colour here and there, but then it is just the one red or just one green). For some women it is being faithful to this one lipstick, for others it could be always wearing a simple white blouse at work. A man might always start his day with the same cup and the same movements of preparing his favourite tea. Another one might spend his weekends weeding his garden while his mind slowly winds down.
The more complicated one part of your life is,
the more you seek simplicity elsewhere. And probably vice versa.
Because simplicity is about balance.
Do you agree?
Heartfelt, wherever you are,