In a world of surging intricacy it is still the simple things that grab me most. This is I confess a somewhat naive observation. I accept for example that when it comes to technology it isn’t feasible to “keep it simple”. There are nonetheless so many other areas of modern life which lend themselves to far less serpentine calculations. While it may trivialize the manufacturing process to say that I count gold and silver among the simple things in life, it at least illustrates that it is the comprehensible rather than the incomprehensible about which I speak. Some things are just self-evident. On a level closer to home a bowl of fresh strawberries and heavy cream are about as good as it gets! In that respect simplicity is so often associated with what is elemental. The conjunction of primary forces and nature is not to be ignored as primitive as it may at first appear. It may even spark a supernatural manifestation in the form of purity, clarity and of course healthfulness.
By contrast complexity is frequently teamed up with cunning and treachery. Indeed the best smoke screen for chicanery is compound detail. How often has it been said that if someone genuinely knows what they are talking about they can explain it in simple terms? The appeal of simplicity is its readiness to exposition, adoption, incorporation or digestion. To say “It’s complicated” is as often as not merely code for deceit.
Embracing the simple things in life invariably involves the rejection of any other. Almost by definition the simple life exacts a degree of austerity. Granted this may be more aesthetic than economic. The deficiency is perhaps more perceptual than substantive but in every instance there persists a feature of restraint, a starkness reminiscent of sobriety and chastity. The preference for simplicity translates into basics on almost every level echoing that which is rudimentary and essential. Taken to the extreme simplicity can become purely binary though in my opinion exclusive duality does little credit to the depth of the characteristic. Consider for example the intensity of the primary colours, the dynamic and distinctive jewel tones which capture a distinction often expressed in traditional and religious significance.
Simplicity has insinuated itself into some of the most unlikely aspects of life, everything from food to fashion, cars to shelter, furniture to hair design and of course language and art. As a former legal practitioner I regret that the bias has not yet completely overtaken the hackneyed language of law but there is no question that it is happening gradually. Simplicity affords not only intelligibility but is by far less mind-numbing than complexity. Apart from the possible nefarious objective of complexity one has to ask why bother with it when a less soul-destroying avenue is open for pursuit?
Though much of the texture of simplicity is conjoined with the visceral experience one mustn’t discount its equally compelling spiritual and emotional strength. Just as we declutter our material world to afford the simple life so too we set free our minds from the bollards to which we are traditionally tied. There is a risk that setting ourselves free of constraint will in some instances cause offence either because our agenda is too patent and plain or because our social conventions are less contrived and therefore more grating or discernible. The profit however is painless and unaffected communication.
It is a mistake to dismiss the simple life as simplistic. Remember that the process of distillation is all about removing impurities and the resulting nectar is typically of higher quality and potency. It is a process of extracting the essential meaning and important aspects of something, a process of separating component substances based on volatility. The cream will rise to the top.