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Simple is as simple does.

Simplicity has always been a high value for me, at least so I thought...  Reading up a bit on the recent trend of "simplicity," however, has left me a bit at odds with my former ally.  Perhaps this is because I mistakenly equate simplicity with ease.  Easier almost always seems better to me.  For example, packing light means less awkward, sweaty, explosive fits of rage at the airport:  easier, simpler, better.  Having fewer things means fewer spousal arguments or manipulative tactics about what makes the cut moving to a new apartment:  easier, simpler, better.  Choosing to do one thing a day, rather than seven, means I might have time to make dinner:  easier, simpler, tastier.

Although I recognize that easy does not necessarily always mean simple, it seems nowadays that simple does not necessarily mean simple either.  Simple, it seems, has become a brand, a lifestyle, a luxury.  Simple is planting an extensive garden in your backyard to grow your own produce and herbs organically and affordably:  fresh, delicious, and fun (if you like that kind of thing,) but also time-consuming, messy, and complicated.  Simple is starting a blog explaining how you have reorganized and "simplified" your kitchen utensils to achieve a maximum level of efficiency in the kitchen.  While perhaps nice to no longer rummage around lesser-used items, doesn't the creation of the blog negate the purpose of stream-lining one's time and energy?  Oh, the irony.  Simple is buying only certain foods, at rather high prices, to avoid processed, saturated, sugared, salted, manipulated, altered, etc., etc., etc.:  cleaner, greener, leaner, purer, but perhaps not simpler.

Simple has become exactly what it is not:  complicated, demanding, and difficult to attain.

While these new trends are not in and of themselves bad at all, they do not seem simple to me.  As we, particularly Americans, transition from our pendulum swing of excess and "more," I can understand the desire to trend toward simplicity.  However, let's keep simple simple.  Let's dumb it down again.  Let's make it easy again - or at least easier, plain, and simple.

Comments

Kara said…
I used to love perusing the Real Simple magazine at our teammate's apartment. But eventually I realized it felt like on big advertisement. So many 'organization' tools just require buying sets of beautiful baskets/shelves/containers.

But, I also think that 'living simply' is not a bad thing, even when it requires more labor on our part. To me, it's about reducing consumption--of energy, plastic, and yes, even junk food! Some choices are easier, like living in a smaller home. But taking public transport or biking instead of taking a car is definitely not more 'simple'! And making more food at home from scratch is not only energy intensive, but sometimes more expensive.

The real question is, why live simply? Are we conserving our ease, or our health and our environment?
Culbert Report said…
Good thoughts, Kara! I certainly agree. I don't think that living simply always means living more easily: easy is always simple, but simple is not always easy, ironically. I have a high value for simplicity - not always the easy kind - but sometimes have to laugh at myself when my simplicity seems very complicated.

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