Sunday, 26 March 2017

Simplici-tea

One of the most common traits of being human is spending too much time overthinking every action. We analyse every possible scenario, playing it out in our head over and over again until we have realised which scenario is best. Even then, we are prone to second-guessing our decisions ad infinitum.  

For example, when it comes to writing I spend what seems like forever trying to come up with the most perfect, unique idea. As a perfectionist, it feels like if I don't articulate my thoughts correctly, then my content is not good enough. Logically speaking, if I feel like this about my own work, then others will surely feel similarly. This thought process seems to be one that is shared by a lot of writers, the perfectionist trait almost being synonymous with the action of writing itself. 

For this reason, my draft list is huge. My blogging folder consists of over a hundred different blog posts - fully planned out with titles, featured images, bullet points and in most cases conclusions completely written out. They are all there to one day be finished off, polished to perfection before I then make the decision of whether it is remotely near good enough to be read by someone else. It doesn't sound simple at all. In fact, I think it's a miserable way of working. It's a miserable way of living, too.  

I personally find that it is when ideas come naturally to you that writing is truly perfect.The only reason this whole post even came about is a very simple story that can be attributed to my grandmother. I was sat in my living room, impatiently running through my head thinking of potential things I could write about. Instead of coming up with anything remotely noteworthy, my mind was quietly humming along to Passionfruitoff Drake's playlist More Life, a song I haven't managed to get off my mind. Every time I would even think of something, a Drake-sounding inner monologue would take over my mind and nullify any thought. I was getting pretty annoyed because I was actually feeling like writing, I just couldn't seem to put any of my passionfruit filled thoughts into words. 

I decided that I would give it a break and just go to bed - there's no point rushing these sort of things, and I would not have been content with the content either way. I closed my laptop and packed up my things ready for work today, where I'm currently sat during a free hour letting my hands do the talking my brain so desired to express last night. I chose my outfit for the day and hung it up in the living room, forcing myself to actually do more than just get out of bed, shower, get dressed and leave for work in the morning. 

Once I was done, I said goodnight to my grandmother - the heroine of this story - and asked her if I could get her anything before bed. "No, that's alright thank you darling have a good night," she replied, so I gave her a kiss on the forehead, hugged her goodnight and walked off to my bedroom. Amidst those Drake-filled lyrics drowning my thoughts, I remembered that on Friday night she had asked me if I could make her a tea before bed, which I obviously did. So last night, I turned back and asked her if she was sure she didn't want anything... not even some tea.  

I have never seen anyone's eyes light up so quickly at such a simple question. She told me how nice the tea had been when I'd made it on Friday and she'd really appreciate another one. As someone that doesn't drink tea very often, this made me quite happy on several different levels - not only was I happy that she'd enjoyed it, I was happy that I'd managed to make a cup of tea that was good enough. The thing is though, even if it hadn't been that nice she would've still told me it was the best damn thing she'd ever tasted and asked for another. I was happy and so was she. It was as simple as that.  

We tend to be so focused on our imperfections that any positivity at all passes right through us, completely unacknowledged. Compliments are overlooked by our own negative opinions, accomplishments are underappreciated due to our own ambitious necessities. We always want to be something we're not, and even when we're told that we're good enough, we only think about the negativity associated with being enough.Funny, isn't it, how "being enough" is nowhere near enough.  

There is a concept in visual arts known as horror vacuilatin for "fear of empty space." It is the idea that if a design is completely filled to its capacity we perceive it to have a lesser value than one filled with white spaces, where it is perceived as being more sophisticated and valuable. Ironically, we have the opposite behaviour when it comes to our humanity, seeking improvement by trying to fill ourselves up to our own personal capacity. The alternative? Keeping things simple. 

Something as simple as being made tea made my grandmother be filled with joy, and something as simple as seeing how happy my grandmother looked made me happy too. I could have questioned myself over the perfection of this tea, found countless ways of improving its flavour, its warmth, its aroma. Or I could just leave things the way they are. If it's enough to be make someone happy, then it's enough for me.  

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that we need to focus on the simplicity of life as opposed to the complicated, often negative aspects associated to it. Appreciate the thank yous, the goodbyes, the sunshine, the laughter, the love, the cups of tea. Get up early. Turn off your phone. Walk more. Let go of the past. Appreciate life. 

When Steve Jobs was defining Apple's visual appeal, he followed a mantra: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,"and I'm very inclined to agree. Less is more effective. Less is more attractive. Less is more impactive.  


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