Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The other side of simple

I learned a lesson in simplicity the other day, courtesy of my three-year old daughters. (It might be kids who go to school, but it’s us parents who get the education.)

Anyway, I had a rare day with my girls, no work, no big brother, just them and me. My knee jerk impulse in these situations is to go for the over-achievement – perhaps there’s a ballet we could go to, maybe go find an elephant ride, or a zero-gravity simulator.

Fortunately, none of these were available this particular Labor Day weekend, so instead we went for a walk along Minnehaha Creek.

We came to a foot-bridge, arcing twenty feet over the stream.

The girls spent the next hour completely absorbed in finding different leaves to float down to the water’s surface, watching to see which ones would survive the rapids.

And as I watched them, I realized that this is what simple is all about. As a visual thinker, I'd always thought of simplicity as the art of reduction. But a process of elimination can result in spare, sometimes Spartan imagery.

I wondered about the other side of simplicity. A dedication to what is essential. Like wondering if a maple leaf would make a good kayak.

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