Simplify, simplify

Before the birth of my first child, a friend recommended a book to me that proved to be invaluable during the first 8 months to year of my son's life. It taught parents 5 simple steps to help calm a colicky baby (those who cry for reasons other than the usual, such as hunger, the need for sleep, a dirty diaper, etc.)

The problem was, in order to make a full book—and in order to make the money a full book makes—the author (and editors, probably) packed it full of fluff. What I could give to another person in the span of a ten minute conversation was inflated into a 300 page door stop.

I seem to be encountering a lot of that lately. I started reading a book tonight on the subject of aikido and quickly became both lost and bored. Philosophy can be like that, too. Religion, how-to books, self-improvement, etc. Volumes of words that do nothing but confuse me more.

I ask questions (both relating to budo and otherwise) of those who would know, and get paragraphs of what is, to my mind, gibberish. Not that what they're saying isn't correct or valuable, but I can't focus on it, I can't retain it.

Where is the simplicity? Why all the words? Are some things just that difficult to explain?

I don't need things made complicated. If anything, life is already too complicated. I need something simpler.

Of course, I also realize that, when asked a question myself by someone, how I need to simplify things as much as possible as well. It is an art, just like any other.

I'm reminded of the story where Hemingway, who was known for his short, terse prose, was challenged to write a story in six words. His repsonse? "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."

Beautifully simple, yet endlessly expressive. That is how I hope my mind and my art to be, too.

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