The Simplest Beauty

I keep looking for simple beauty.

We humans complicate things. We add layers and twists when none are needed. We obfuscate when clarity and silence would have been better. We elaborate when holding still would have been sufficient.

My eye goes to the simple piece of wood furniture where you see the craftsman’s strokes rather than the machine’s precision. In literature I am a Strunk & White kind of guy (though I break their rules often enough). In music, I chose an instrument, the harmonica, that is almost a toy and travels with me in my pocket. In life, I strive for the simple path, though it is surprising how complicated simple can be.

Things become complicated when we are looking for something more, something we don’t have yet, something we don’t know yet. Then it becomes messy and awkward and only later, after lots of work, does it become simple once again.

Take tango dancing. It is complicated until we discover that it is all about walking to the music. Maybe someone we respect tells us this pearl and it finally sinks in; or maybe we make the discovery ourselves and we feel that we have at last unraveled the mystery. But when we try to walk to the music, we discover that walking to the music is the hardest thing of all.

In my case, it took me at least ten years to even begin to walk. (Funny how when you love something, when you believe in the secrets it holds and when you hunger for those secrets to be revealed, the years melt away and ten years becomes like ten days.)

Since then, I have shunned fancy tango adornments because I don’t think I’m ready. I’m still learning to walk.

Many teachers prefer to teach “complicated” over “simple.” Simple is harder. Simple requires little explanation but infinite repetition. Simple is paying attention to the smallest detail. Simple is learning to feel instead of thinking. Most of us will lose our patience long before we achieve simple.

But if you are willing to spend 20 years learning to walk again, you will.

By Kevin Carrel Footer – www.kevincarrelfooter.com

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2 responses to “The Simplest Beauty”

  1. Maraya Avatar

    I liked what you have to say today. I always tell my students, and potential students, that tango is an old social dance of just walking and feeling. Of course, they don’t listen. They’re in too much of a hurry. They want to do ganchos on a crowded floor and colgadas before they can even maintain their own axis and balance. It frustrates me that the heart and soul is going (gone?) out of the tango (in my community) and that we’re left with a shell of body and mind. It’s amazing what that body and mind can do at times (Dancing With the Stars!) and I enjoy it myself – especially Tango Nuevo – but it’s just not the same tango – the one that yearns for, and con suerte, finds, connection.

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