Simplicity

by Ave

I often find myself from wondering what is the true meaning of everything we do. Part of it might have to do with the fact that I am in a rather analytical phase of my life, and especially the studies – which are very much on the home stretch now. I don’t think it would be unfair to say this year in Amsterdam has taught me more than three years in London. Academically. I don’t know – perhaps it’s just a bigger picture starting to emerge, come together – a cumulative educational moment in full effect?

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about things. I’ve been thinking about what life comes down to. I don’t know. But it’s started to seem to me that even with the most complex issues, simplicity is the key to everything. I’m talking in abstract and broad terms. It would be silly to assume or expect that everything around us and in our lives comes down to one rule. The world is way too complex to even dare to say anything along those lines. However, isn’t it true that even the most complicated problems become manageable when you boil them down to separate smaller problems? You simplify, you deconstruct; but note, this does not mean pulling things out of context. You have to take it apart into smaller pieces and reassemble again. Doing so you’ll learn the structure of what at first was out of your league. I can’t think of anything that doesn’t obey this rule.

Didn’t Einstein say something like if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough?

I saw a series of posters promoting awareness about mental disorders a while back. Those posters and their simplicity really resonated with me. I don’t think there’s another set of posters like this I’ve had to seek out years later. They’re powerful exactly because they’re so simple. They convey the essence of complex mental disorders in a more efficient way than any verbal description ever could. You don’t need to read the descriptions – you get it. As much as I’ve been in contact with design in general, I think I’ve always been the most blown away by very simple, ingenious things. Isn’t it always harder to come up with a solution when you’re lacking the material (material can be anything from words to space to ingredients to …) – you have no other option but to be creative. When I was studying journalism, we were always told tokeep it simple, stupid. Haikus are simple in their form. A lot of the examples I could bring here also come down to individual taste in things, so maybe it’s just my skewed aesthetics that want simple things – pardon, if it is so.

Now the tricky part is talking about humans and the relationships between them. I would go as far as saying that simplicity is all in human relationships. The problem with us, people, is that – and I don’t even know why it is so – we like making things complicated. In our heads. I am a self-confessed overanalyser and overthinker. I tend to get stuck in a thought and as if letting my mind run in loops, I am spiralling deeper into complexity, letting myself believe I am faced with something complicated. Most of the time stuff really can be just made pretty damn simple and stupid – but for some reason most people are reluctant to admit so.

I think conflicts are one such thing. We like thinking that there’s this web of reasons, one crazier than the other. But my limited experience in life, looking at things in hindsight, has shown that people and their motives tend to be, at the core, very simple. Almost banal, when talking about conflicts. Greed, jealousy, bitterness, narrow-mindedness…

I believe also the most beautiful people and moments are simple. The most beautiful things, in my opinion, in life are things like – warmth, kindness, honesty, openness, closeness, love, beauty – the list being in no means complete, just first things that come to mind. I think our daily lives and routines have become too complicated partially because we let them become such. How easy it is to forget to step back, breathe in and out, and look at the fuss and bustling of mundanity. A simple act – just stopping for a moment – can put a lot in perspective, ground us. Remembering to be warm, kind, honest, open with the people around you (and treating yourself the same) would decomplicate a lot of seemingly complicated relationships.

It’s as simple as that. I really think that appreciation for simplicity is what we need to remind ourselves about.

A knot is nothing more than a complicated piece of string. Every knot can be detangled – and so can our lives. We’ve just convinced ourselves (and we have been convinced by others) that it’s not so.

There is a danger I have just written 800 words of soppy clichéd stuff, but these thoughts have been gnawing away at me – had to get them out. Should add an inspirational quote or an image with simple things in life. For perspective, you know.

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