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  WITNESS

Simplicity is Not Easy



In a world filled with rules, where a space is not mere emptiness and a thought can speak in silence; where we must listen even though we do not hear, straight and simple are terms we long for, though they are shadows that escape the light. Language reveals the borders of a mind enclosed in its own limitations. When the border expands, the gates of simplicity opens to complex forms, matters and particles that fuse into a mass of data, expression that exceeds expectation, and interpretation that defies perception.
Is simplicity a truly efficient option? Is it a better choice than accuracy, a field wherein complexity is commonplace, where specific nuances are needed to rule out ambiguities and delete doubts? Or is intricacy nothing more than an ostentatious tapestry designed to seduce beauty against beauty, confuse our minds as we are thrown into a maze of synthetic analysis, and create a handicap instead of a trigger?
If I were told that I can only use words with two syllables or less, I would grope and gripe, moan and grind. The point in prose is that a straight line is often done in circles. The shortest distance is usually through syllogisms. They are archetypal elements of the right and the left cerebral spheres, portrayed as opposing fiends. Yet within the holistic aspect of life, they are partners in the same crime of complicating our critical judgement, the usual cause of migraines and the like.
And this is why there are times when having a child like thought is moremoving than the arduous process of cause and effect. A child asks why to learn. An adult asks why to challenge a structure. A child will respond through the sincerity of a limited experience. An adult will not only respond but will also react upon the complexity of his tragedy and his triumph, based upon his failures and accomplishments, his assumptions and perceptions.
Einstein once said that if we cannot explain things simple, then we do not understand things well enough. The great masters are not those who elaborate on lengthy equations. They are those who simplify composite themes into a unified concept that enlighten our perspective rather than obscuring the way we see things.
I guess the price we pay for knowledge is the loss of simplicity. No matter what we do, upon attaining a certain level of data saturation, we will tend to gather shackles around our lifestyle, verbal and nonverbal, explicit and occult. Language thus becomes a barrier buried in multi-layered sediments. The more words we add, the more labyrinths we enter. The maze that was once a single turn with a single trap is now a contraption of myriad snares, mirrors, doors and fences. We get in, stay enclosed and locked in until our neurons perish and fade with age. Simplicity is then encountered only upon birth, dissipates with growth and then comes back when death knocks behind our door.
Steve jobs asserted that “simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But its worth in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains”, and so he says.
So perhaps simplicity should begin with a constant reminder to declutter our lives of unnecessary noise. Do I really need five thousand friends in Facebook, two thousand followers in Twitter and more than two thousand likes to posts I make on Pinterest? These numbers are mere nutrients of the self, the selfish and the egocentric. The social network is not really a network of social activity, but an arena of hunters in search of popularity. I am guilty as charged. The crowd is as appealing as the noise that it creates. When applause simmers down and the curtains rise, only those with a clear intent will remain while the rest will walk out. So let them walk, let them go. Simplicity begins.
We do not need more space. We need less stuff. Or if we force ourselves to have less space, then we will have the luxury of having less stuff. A dire obstacle to simplicity is fear; the fear of not having what we need when the need arises. And so we procure two of the same things just in case one is lost, we still have another. Two pairs of eyeglasses. More than two pairs of shoes. More than a dozen pair of pants. All of the same kind with slight variances for style, just in case things happen and we need them for something. And so we think, until age creeps in again and mocks us on the face. Through all these years of buying and keeping and having, just in case we need them, the need never came, and now we have garbage, a very expensive one.
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things and only the wise can see them” (Paulo Coelho). And so it is with a child’s wisdom. Untarnished, pristine and sincere, there is so much we can learn from the mind of a child. That child is still within us; as long as we are able to disrobe the myriad garments we have forced upon our minds, as long as we can get rid of our masquerades, we can still unlock the fetters of our useless complexities. We can still free ourselves from the cage of our captive egos.
Simple is pretty. Simple is not easy. But if I can challenge myself, I too can challenge you. Start with simple words, not the Latin derivatives. Get rid of adjectives and reduce adverbs. From language, we free our minds. We use the words that can paint and tell a story as it is. And from these words, we go through life..
Once upon a time, there was a child who sat on stairs, stared on windows and looked at the moon. One day, he told himself: “when I grow up, I will have go to where I can see the moon better”. As years passed, he got down from the stairs, went out of the house and looked at the window from the streets that he used to see. He went to school. And then he grew. He got into a rocket, became an astronaut, and was sent to land his feet on the same moon he used to see before. The world became different. After so many days in space, he went back home, and had a big party. The whole world thought he was a hero. Late at night, a very late night, when everyone else was gone and tucked in bed, he went back to the window and looked at the moon. And on that moon he saw the child he was. And life became as lovely as it was.



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