“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ― Clare Boothe Luce
So, I am a lover of music and it has been one of my goals to be able to at least play one musical instrument. I had already started training myself on the keyboard and can play quite a few songs but I needed the real deal.
Fortunately, an opportunity came for me to be entered into a music academy. I got my study pack a few days to the entrance exam and I seriously prepared for it……well, kind of.
I even had a music director, now my good friend, brush me up on it. It was not a difficult one…..heck! It was basic rudiments of music that 4- or 5-years old kids would know.
In fact, it was really simple but I prepared well for it, focusing majorly on the technicalities of the course (understanding the musical notes and how they are represented on the staff) while I overlooked the simple definitions in the study pack.
Well, not overlooked per say…. I did study them too but I was so focused on the technicalities that I took the simple definitions for granted. Before we got started on the exam, my friends and I did some revision.
I was feeling like a superstar as I taught them the technicalities, my friend, the music director had taught me in the course of my study. Again, I ignored the simple definitions.
I just didn’t think they would come out because they were downright simple that even a child can effortlessly define them. I felt really fired up, all ready to draw the crochets, minims and group the quavers….in fact the exam was going to be easy-peasy.
The paper was put before us and we had 45 minutes to finish it. The first question threw me off balance. Not because it was difficult but because it was so simple that I had no reason not to know it.
I read the question again.
“Characters called notes are used to represent ——————“
Now, this is the first line in the study manual.
What??????? How can I not know this?
In fact, it was something I did know but at the same time, I didn’t know…..I guess this is the part where I can say “I could not remember”.
I beat myself up for a few seconds before quickly going through the other questions to answer them. I came across other simple definition questions but I just skipped them because I still couldn’t remember the answers.
Now, I was done with all questions but for the three simple definitions. I decided to calm down and think deeper…. retracing the steps of my study in my mind’s eye as I tried to see the pages of the study manual.
What is a staff?
What is time signature?
The answers started coming though not in the exact form in which it was written in the study manual but at least my understanding of them. I successfully answered two of the definitions.
I was left with question one still….
“Characters called notes are used to represent ——————“
No matter how hard I thought, I still couldn’t remember it. And then it was time up. I wrote an answer but I knew deep in my guts that it was really wrong.
I quickly rushed to check the study manual for the answer and there it was staring at me right in the face…..Musical sounds…..the simplest answer.
I could have cried. I was so mad at myself. How could I have forgotten this? I didn’t even think to cut myself any slack because I didn’t deserve it.
I was really mad at myself but what could I do? I know I am not going to fail but for the fact that I couldn’t remember such simple answers really ticked me off.
But then it got me thinking and I realized, “Simplicity is just everything”. If only I didn’t take those simple definitions for granted, I could easily have answered my exam questions.
And really, just as Ernst F. Schumacher said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
It’s just like riddles and puzzles….we keep cracking our brains trying to figure out the missing pieces of the puzzle or answers to the riddles when the answer is actually in plain sight.
I was watching a cartoon the other time, and there was this riddle that was asked, “What musical instrument can you hear but can’t see and can’t touch?”
A trick question, right? Can you think of such instrument? Perhaps I would leave this open and let you spin a while, yea?
Sometimes, the way life plays out absolutely blows my mind and I can’t help but wonder and marvel at the awesomeness of God, the giver and orchestrator of life.
More often than not, the intricacies of life; the maze of life confuses us so much so that we tend to lose focus on the little things which actually matter in our day-to-day life.
It takes the simple but great mind to understand the simplicity of life and live as such.
- Think simple: As adults, we take life so seriously, forgetting one very important quality we should never lose – SIMPLICITY. Why mount unnecessary pressures on yourself?
We confront issues with mostly complex ideas for a solution when truly the answer lies in a very simple approach.
“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”― William Golding says.
True happiness and real success lies in simplicity. It’s all a matter of perception. I guess that throws more light on the quote, “The more you look, the less you see”.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ― Confucius
Learn to think and live simply and you will see how happier you will become.
Henry David Thoreau says, “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all in cumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
- Be like kids: Sometimes, being a grown-up is so much work that the idea of being a child is just so appealing. Children have little or nothing to worry about save eat, sleep, play, poop. Their lives seem so easy and stress-free.
“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered. But most of all, I learned that life is about sitting on benches next to ancient creeks with my hand on her knee and sometimes, on good days, for falling in love.” ― Nicholas Sparks.
Look intensely at a child one day and try to see how he/she lives a simple life. Watch how he/she picks that toy and try to make sense of it while playing with another…all very simple thoughts.
- Find a safe haven: This really helps when you need to cool off and let out the steam. So, yeah! Cartoons are one of my favorite places I love to dwell in when it seems reality is too hot to deal with.
At such times, my child-like mode is fully activated…and yes! In case you are wondering, I do have a child-like part of me (I guess that is where my childhood nickname, Omotweety came from) as I presume most people do.
However, if I am wrong, well, I want to say it is a part of me I really wouldn’t want to lose. This child-like part of me is always activated. It is my happy self because at such times, I just live and let live.
Once I am done taking a break from the world, snuggling in bed and watching cartoons like Mulan, Atlantis, Tinker bell, Epic, Rio, Barbie series, Frozen, Tangled, Sinbad and the seven seas, etc., I always feel reinvigorated. My mind is clear and my inner self comes alive with fresh, brilliant and creative ideas.
I learn from these cartoons….the way the characters handle crisis, the strong faith they have in themselves to succeed, how to love, trust and take control of situations no matter how challenging they may appear…..the sheer drive to overcome challenges and live happily-ever-after.
- Have an open mind: Now, you may argue that these cartoons are a world of make-believe (which they really are) and it is so different from reality.
I actually agree with you but I watch these cartoons with an open mind and also with the aim of learning new things so much so that even though I have seen them a million times before, whenever I watch them again, there is always something fresh to learn.
Take the cartoon, “LION KING”, for example….. Aha! see? HAKUNA MATATA
- Change your perception of life: Truthfully, life is just as simple as you think it is complicated. It is just as fun as it is stressful. I maintain it’s all a matter of perception.
From what angle do you perceive life? If difficult, well, it’s going to be a rough, steep climb to the top but if you see it as simple and easy, it would seem as though the steepness is one so smooth that you just cruise up.
You tend to hardly notice or feel the sharp edges or supposed difficulties you experience as you go up. You know why? Because as William James did say, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome”. In essence, the ability to simplify issues alters your perception of life and it makes challenges easier to handle.
- Learn new things: Like a child still, be open to learning new things. Stop acting all stereotyped or strictly in a one-way traffic manner. “Variety is the spice of life” as the saying goes so, enjoy.
I used to love wearing flats a lot – sandals, sneakers, and loafers.In fact, comfy shoes in general that made me move swiftly or like my sister would tell me, “like lightening in a flash” especially when I am in a hurry. I liked the idea of wearing heels once in a while but I really wasn’t crazy about it.
I am a petite lady and l love my small, cute and pretty self. However, I started wearing heels a while back courtesy my beau. While he adores my small cute self, he encouraged me to try heels and see how I liked it and Voila! I am now a sucker for them.
It wasn’t as comfy at first but now I am used to it and so love the elegance, classy and graceful steps I take when I wear them. My comfort zone is the 4” heel though I wear 6” too which I dabble on sometimes……Haahahahahahaaaaa….So yeah, try new things.
It may seem odd at the beginning but that shouldn’t be a turnoff. Keep at it but if it isn’t your terrain, you can let it be. An unknown author said, “Our regrets are not for the things we did but the things we didn’t do, things we didn’t say that could have saved someone we care about”.
Try new hobbies, new looks – hair styles, new smart decent and modest way of dressing, add a touch of make up if you please. The summary is do not hold back. LIVE TO THE FULLEST!
- Act simple: Most times the answers we seek to life’s issues in whatever category they fall into are always in front of our eyes.
“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first….When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar”. ― Victoria Moran.
We don’t always have to feel as though complicated responses to issues are the best.
Accept sincere apologies given for mistakes made. Stop grinding on and on and dwelling on issues. Be sure to let go of things easily but do not be a doormat.
Baggages only slow you down. Live a clutter-free and relaxed life. Live humbly and make way for peace. Stop being unnecessarily wound up and incorrigible. Stop being so rude.
You only succeed in pushing people away but if you choose to be nice, it sure adds value to you….yea, the smile on your face makes you more beautiful, attractive and friendly.
- Do not be pompous: What’s the use of an arrogant ego and having the god complex? Are you trying to instill fear in people? Stop deluding yourself into thinking that it is only when people fear you, then they wouldn’t take you for granted. How wrong you are, my dear.
Fear isn’t what you should desire instead, RESPECT and this isn’t bought, drilled or cajoled. It is earned.
Being friendly and nice, showing genuine interest, care, concern for another individual, especially if they are on a lower rung of the social ladder, doesn’t make you less of a human being.
Instead, it puts you in a different light and it makes you see and understand life from a simple and different perspective.
You are in your current position today not by your power. So stop going around feeling all proud and haughty. Just as you think it is permanent, it may easily be as temporary. The table may turn tomorrow and it would not seem so great from your new angle down the ladder.
- Have complete trust in God: Destiny sure has a funny way of playing out. A wonderful example is Olajumoke Orisaguna, the ex-bread seller now turned model just because the Divine Hand of providence guided her to cross the path of the Photographer, T.Y Bello or is it Promise, the street shoe-rack hawker who was given N300,000 and a brand new car by Nigerian music artist, Kcee? God is all-knowing and absolute.
He has never failed and will never fail. All you need do is leave all to Him. Trust Him and let go. He would surprise you in ways you never imagined.
- Have a positive role model: If you take a critical look at most of the successful people in the world today, one common trait they all have is their simple and unassuming personality.
Some examples would include Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Femi Otedola, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg to mention but a few. “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” Leo Tolstoy says.
Ever so often, simple wealthy people don’t look like the owners of that multi-million naira, dollar, pounds business you know. If you don’t already know them, they could sometimes easily pass for an employee and nothing at all like CEOs.
- Let go: Stop dragging the past with you as though it is necessary when it is absolutely not. It is just baggage and all it does is complicate things for you.
Learn to let the past be in the past. Live for today as you focus on the future. Steve Maraboli says, “The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” Stop dwelling on the past and move on.
Simplicity is the one major road to happiness. Appreciating the simple beauty of life – the feel of that cool early morning breeze on your skin, the wonderful breath of fresh air, the beautiful evening sunset, the fragrance of the lovely flowers in your home or office,……. all these little things we think irrelevant have a way of positively influencing our minds and our awareness of life.
So, the long and short of this whole write-up is for you to think simply, act simply and live simply.
As for my story, would let you know how the exam turned out and my progress through the Music Academy. Wish me well.
By the way, the answer to the riddle I mentioned above is THE VOICE.
Did you have fun? Did you find the videos interesting to watch? I hope you enjoyed this piece. Thank you so much for reading this.
So, what do you think? You got any other pointers to add on simplicity? In what other way do you think we can approach life with simplicity and still live happily? I really look forward to reading from you.