I took the time last month to sit down and talk to different people from different walks of life, and I must admit that one of the very few things that I found in common among all of them is that they wished life could be simpler. Now that we finally see the end of the pandemic tunnel, I find people yearning for the simplicity lockdown gave us. Although we are all excited about being able to do the things we were missing, we cannot deny that life during Covid was simpler. It lacked excitement, but it also lacked complexity. In a very straightforward way, Covid made us focus on what was important, and we learned that when we do that, we simplify our lives. This gave us an order, and in that order, we suddenly found balance. It was forced, it was sudden, it was unexpected, and it even felt strange. But it was also necessary, and more than that, it was positive. I have come to the realization that with the goal (or excuse) of making our lives simpler, the world around us gets more complex by the minute. Technology is a great example. Our lives are now ruled by our phones, guided by apps, and made possible by buttons, and behind it all is a whole lot of circuits, signals, and commands that are impossible to understand without an entire IT team assisting you. I can’t help to ask myself, is this simpler? Would we be yearning for simplicity if this was true? As human beings, we pursue simplicity. But we must admit that we have a highly complex relationship with it. We yearn for simplicity, we strive for it, and we reject it all at the same time. Since the dawn of time, we have been saying that “the simpler explanation is usually the correct one.” I don’t know if you ever stopped and paid attention to this statement. It is not only saying that the truth is simple. Even more than that, this is saying that simplicity is a symbol of truth.
When communications are simple, they are effective. And more than that, they are impactful. One of the most famous and impactful speeches of all time is President Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg. Did you know that the full address is not even 300 words long? When it is simple, it is striking. As a communicator, I strive for simplicity every time I write because simple communications are better understood. Personally, I’m not too fond of the overuse of language that does nothing but feeds the ego of the writer and confuses the reader. When this happens, the message is thrown to a second place, overshadowed by a very archaic and self-centered belief that complexity is a synonym of competency. Another misconception regarding simplicity is that, for some reason, we relate simple with easy—nothing farther from the truth.
Go ask anyone to explain anything in just one sentence, and I promise you they will find it hard to do because it is. Simplicity is hard to achieve. To be able to express a whole idea or complete understanding without any excess or extravagance is a challenging task. To be able to communicate lots of information with few elements requires purposeful focus. This means that simplicity is also a symbol of optimization. A significant and telling fact about simplicity is that it is a design principle. Designers follow principles in order to create effective and attractive compositions.
This means that simplicity should be more than just a desire. It should be a goal because it is proven to work. Particularly in fashion, simplicity is a synonym of timelessness. The simplest designs are the ones that are successful at passing the test of time. As a fashion designer, I always want to create garments that are relevant to the times they are being offered, but more than that, I want to create designs that can stay relevant through the years. Simple is also eternal.
A couple of issues ago, I wrote about the importance of balance. Balance as the ongoing and never-ending act of bringing all the elements of our lives into harmony. Balance as a journey and not a destiny. And it got me thinking, are balance and simplicity mutually dependent? Can you achieve one without the other? I wholeheartedly believe that if balance is the journey, its path is simplicity. Simplicity not as a way to avoid complexity but as the act of digging through it in order to get to the core of it all. Simplicity as a way of getting rid of the superfluous and leaving the meaningful.
If we want to improve our day-to-day lives, we must update our own knowledge regarding simplicity and eliminate all the misconceptions around it. Simple is impactful. Simple is eternal. And it is also something extremely complex to achieve, thus something worthwhile to pursue.