Simplicity freak —

To create anything of value it helps to become a simplicity freak. 

For some period of your day you must make your life so simple that all you are doing is bending to the task at hand. All complexities must fade to black to facilitate creation.

I was visiting artist Dorrie Koller recently — this week’s One Thing Better interviewee — and was struck by her simplicity commitment.

We were in the back yard of her new home, a small courtyard. Off to the side in the same fenced enclosure was a large-ish grassy area.

I was agog at the possibilities. A hammock! Shade trees! Adirondack chairs! Rabbits!

My puppy brain exploded with potential improvements.

Dorrie shook her head no.

“The more you own the more you work.”

Over the course of a 45-minute visit she said this several times. A personal understanding had morphed into a mantra.

Dorrie realized what so few of us truly understand: There is always a post-acquisition cost to all that you own

The work doesn’t stop at the point of purchase. At that instance you’ve worked to earn the money to buy this thing you believe will improve your life. 

You think you’re mostly done with the work part.

But noooooo. There is the work to transport and set up that item. And the work to maintain it. And clean it.

And if/when you become bored with it, there is the work to move it off to an acceptable space not too much in the way . . . 

Then you have to work your way around this item whenever you’re in its vicinity. Large or small, it’s in your space. 

Which means whether it’s in a drawer or in a cabinet or in the closet or in the garage . . . you are now working to navigate around it.

Until you put in more effort — to donate it or toss it. 

Even cherished items require effort.

For people without a mission in their lives this is fine. Taking care of all their stuff occupies their time. It’s a pleasant non-thinking way to pass the days.

But this is not for you. You are here to create and express. 

You are here to simplify as many aspects of your existence as you can, so you can pour real soul energy into the work that matters. 

Your work. Not busy work.

Have you noticed this? When you step into a messy space, it’s not messy because of a dearth of items. It’s messy because there’s too much muchness going on. 

Dorrie precludes as much unanticipated busy work as possible by reminding herself — and us — the more you own the more you work.

Implicit in her dictum is this, the more you own the more you work mindlessly

Chaos rarely erupts from spareness. From living lean. 

You know what comes from living lean? 

Insight. Genius. Work that matters. Work that sparks you. Your work.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, if you’re lucky.

I quit: One Thing Better, Dorrie Koller
Mind pioneers: Mitch Horowitz on the beginnings of our national creed