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A while back, I read this article about the photographer who does the product images for Apple. He’s doing an amazing job of making iPhones and iPads and iWhatevers into somewhat iconic images. In other words, you know when you’re looking at an Apple product because you can mark off all the boxes in the stark-ad-campaign checklist:
- Here’s a white background.
- Here’s a product in front of the white background.
- Here’s a hand using the product in front of the white background.
And he makes the products seem so squeaky clean and neat and… well… simple.
What struck me in the article, though, was this image:
That’s what it takes to make things look simple.
And I thought it was fitting because that’s how I feel about the whole simplicity movement that seems to be making headway in the blogosphere these days.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for simplifying. I’ve posted in the past about how we’ve tried to do it, even so far as to make a little reminder for myself to post on the fridge. Simplify. Have less. Do less. Less less less.
But does it really just boil down to “less?” Can the concept of simplicity be simplified into one word? The more I’m trying to get into it, the more I’ve learned that it can’t be. That simplifying in and of itself can be a complicated process.
Case in point… E wants to get one of those $400 neat scanners so we can scan all of the documents in our paper filing system (which I painstakingly set up and am probably a little inappropriately fond of) and save them in the “cloud” (I kind of hate the “cloud”), then shred our paper files and throw them into the air like confetti.
Okay, not the last part, but the general idea is that he wants to get rid of our paper filing system.
My argument is that it’s a whole lot easier and simpler for me if I can open a piece of mail or whatever, walk into the closet where our filing system is, pull open a folder, and drop it in. Honestly, sometimes I have a hard enough time doing even this much, so I can’t see myself sitting down with random receipts, statements, and bills that we get over a month’s time to scan each and every one of them, then do whatever it is I’ll have to do to get them to the cloud. So is it simpler to embrace the cloud and go paper-free or simpler to save some money and keep the paper files?
Or getting rid of stuff… the “less” side of simplicity. Then discovering a week or month later that I really did need that thing, even though I only use it every so often, and now I have to go out and buy a new thing. And then that makes me question getting rid of other things, because I don’t want to have to buy new things.
There are books and online guides and advice galore extolling the virtues of simplicity and offering up 5-step processes to get you started on your simple way. But I start these and never finish them because I get so caught up in the preparation for simplicity that I think I really lose sight of why simplicity is a goal.
And I think that’s really what it comes down to.
Simplicity isn’t just getting rid of stuff or becoming more organized or buying the right document scanning system. It’s a new way of thinking, a change in mindset that manifests in a simpler lifestyle holistically. Getting rid of stuff or things in your schedule or going with that less is more mindset is great, but how do you decide what that looks like for you and how do you maintain that mindset once you’re there?
Being a child of the 80s and raised in a more-is-more kind of family, it’s been difficult to break free of that mindset, especially when things like neat scanners make it seem like more really is more…or more really is less?
It’s an enigma.