I want to talk a little about simplicity. It is something that has always been important to me but today’s thoughts were set off by a friend Steve Tomlin who carved this spoon.

“I tried to get back to simplicity.”

I used to collect quotes which inspired me in my reading and write them up on posters on my wall. Now it is easier to collect them via the web. Here are some I like on simplicity.

Charles Mingus
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

Hans Hofmann
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

E. F. Schumacker (one of my favourite writers and a great inspiration)
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.

Albert Einstein
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House in the Ozarks by Hines)
It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

Eleanor Roosevelt (My Days)
A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.

Edwin Way Teale (“February 4” Circle of the Seasons)
Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.

Henry David Thoreau
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.

I shall finish with the story of the fisherman and the industrialist. I like this so much it heads the chapter  on making bowls in my own book. 
When people see me working wood many start suggesting ways in which they think they could improve the process or products by making them more complex, thankfully I also meet some who really get it and understand the beauty of simplicity.

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The industrialist was horrified to find the fisherman lying beside his boat, smoking his pipe.
“Why aren’t you fishing?” said the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for the day.”
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats, even a fleet of boats. Then you could be rich like me.”
“What would I do then?”
“Then you could sit back and enjoy life.”
“What do you think I’m doing now?”

from ‘Timeless Simplicity’ by John Lane

I guess this links back to Hugh’s fish fight
I have argued for years against industrial fishing. It seems daft to limit the catch, I would limit the process. If everyone was out there in small wooden boats then the Spaniards wouldn’t be fishing the Irish Sea and we wouldn’t be fishing in Iceland. We would be paying more for our fish but our grandchildren would be able to catch fish too. I suspect the folk working on the smaller boats have more fulfilling and meaningful jobs too.

Author Robin Wood

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