The Language of Simple


Simplistic. Mistake seventeen in the Top 20 Word Misuses by Steven Pinker, renowned (not renouned!) Harvard linguist.  Simplistic means "naively or overly simple." It does not mean "simple" or "pleasingly simple." 

Appreciating the difference between overly simple and pleasingly simple is a good idea when it comes to building your nest.  Simple is a laudable goal while simplistic may be a rabbit hole.

I’ve come very close to falling down a rabbit hole. I love order and have a less is more default. But caution must be exercised lest we allow simplistic to masquerade as simple. Simplistic is too little of a good thing- naïve and inadequate.

Minimalism is my rabbit hole. It is fashionable and I have fancied myself a disciple but I’ve had a nagging feeling that minimalism is too simplistic. It’s hot, but it leaves me lukewarm. In pondering why I’ve never taken the bait on things like the spending detox or the challenge to only own x items of clothing, I realized that it’s enoughism, not minimalism that excites me. Believing I’d coined a new term, imagine my disappointment when Google found this for me in a trice. 

Enoughism:  (Noun) It is the theory that there is a point where consumers possess everything they need, and buying more would actually make them worse off. It emphasizes less spending and more buying restraint. It is the antonym for consumerism. 

I think of enough as being the fulcrum between too little and too much.  It’s where I feel grounded and stable. It’s the pivot point that allows me to sometimes tip toward more and frequently tip toward less.  It’s the place where simple, triumphs. 

Not wanting our Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, and The American Heritage College Dictionary to feel spurned, I looked up (the antecedent of Googling) Enough: "Adequate for the want or need. Sufficient. Fully."  No mention of enoughism. 

But in truth, these dictionaries are a ready example of enoughism. “Why own even one if you have a computer?” you ask.  They’re just an anachronism.  Dusty space-gobblers. Maybe for some, but for me, they are enough.  The dog-eared paperback dictionaries with broken spines have been discarded.  But these three stalwarts remain. I know where they came from.  I know where they live. And even though I embrace Google, not having these sturdy companions would diminish, not enrich the nest I share.

The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’  in the New York Times Magazine, July 2016 by Kyle Chayka, confirmed my dis-ease with minimalism.  The story was an eye-opener-worth a read in its entirety, but here’s the short version. 

The new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all.  To wealthy practitioners, minimalism is now little more than a slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast.  Minimalism telegraphs elitism.  The richer one is, the less one has.  But with a carefully edited life, having only the right things is crucial.  The wrong stuff is a minimalist buzzkill. Being a minimalist takes lots of resources- time, money, social standing, confidence and a speedy internet connection. 

If minimalism is oppressive, and consumerism is burdensome, maybe enoughism is our ticket to liberation. Enough is enough.

If a devotee of minimalism is a minimalist, then I’m an enoughist. I don’t see this word in any dictionary, so I’m making it my own. I wish it rolled off the tongue more easily, so if a better word comes along, I’ll adopt it.

                                                  “Make everything as simple as possible but not one bit simpler.”

 Albert Einstein believed in the beauty of simple.  And part of that beauty is the knowledge that enough is quite a plenty.