Simple Rarely Means Easy

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Simple rarely means easy. I think we often confuse the simple with the easy. I’ve found that in reality that’s usually far from the case—simple more often than not translates to difficult. My passions are photography, writing and travelling. Try to take a simple photograph, write a simple sentence or simply travel the world with a rucksack. It’s hard.

Following a Zen Buddhist path for fifteen years I quickly learned that meditation, though simple, was very difficult (at least in the beginning). Living in the moment was a simple concept but almost impossible to execute minute by minute (our Monkey Mind likes to play tricks). Doing less harm (simple) doesn’t automatically imply non-action.

And right action can be hard and demanding. Looking at a Zen work of art is relaxing because it is simple and peaceful but the action of creating it took years and years of training and toil—hard work. A piano concerto, in its simplicity, can be soothing to the ears but the mastery of the music by the musician can take decades. The more proficient one is at producing simplicity the more difficult the task. Simplicity does not (without proper training) spring forth naturally. It’s work and dedication.

I find beauty in simplicity and paradoxically simplicity most oftenย has layers of complexity. Look at a simple flower—beautiful in its simplicity. But look closer for the complexity within the simplicity. It’s there if you look for it. I equate simplicity with refinement—the Japanese, for instance, have traditionally been masters of refinement. From beautiful Zen gardens to the battle swords of the Samurai. The next time you see a beautiful photograph, read an elegant piece of prose or look at a wandering backpacker know that there is effort involved. Simple was never meant to be easy.

6 responses to “Simple Rarely Means Easy

  1. Joys of simplicity is an honorable path to follow. I think insight comes in peeling away layers of complexity leading to a simple understanding of one’s existence. As I grow older, life is less complicated and I’m more joyful in celebrating the moments of simply being. Life is fuller in its simplicity after years of peeling layers. Good-luck in your travels, Stephen. Such a splendid photo expressing simplicity, yet revealing great detail for wandering eyes to enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Simple is a word not used by Photographers, time, patience and careful planning, waiting quietly is hard work and planning is only understood by the talented successful photographers.

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