Less is More
On Nailing the Basics
He must increase; I must decrease. —John 3:30
The one who knows much says little. —Proverbs 17:27
Above: Whether words or symbols, the message remains the same.
As I stand in 2022’s grand foyer—shaking the year that was off my boots and girding myself for that which is to come—I have thought a great deal about the inalienable truths that, put together, make up my life.
These are few and far between. They are the laws versus the theories—what should happen versus how it happens.
They are often simple but never easy.
After all, the wonderful thing about life is that progress is often a straightforward, mathematical exercise.
To lose weight, eat less and move more.
To become wealthy, spend less and invest more
Nuances are aplenty, however, the truth is that these simple steps taken daily will often lead you exactly where you need to go.
Put simply, the shortest messages often hold the deepest truths. What they lack in breadth, they allow for in depth.
Likewise, I find that the fewest words often tell the longest stories.
Hemingway understood this when he coined the six-word story with his devastating: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
So too did Pascal per his famous quip: “Had I more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
In short (pun very much intended), the simplest messages are often the most important. Those that are easy to say and hard to heed contain multitudes, change lives, alter trajectories.
Though mere existence is not life, the only things that you absolutely have to do are breathe, eat, and sleep.
No more, no less.
We oftentimes lose sight of this because of the complicated mess that is modern living. After all, it’s hard to be thoughtful when we’re all in such a rush.
The most brutal casualty of endless freedom and mind-numbing entertainment is how humanity has collectively lost touch with the precious few things that make life worth living.
We like to think we understand things better than we do.
We tell ourselves all kinds of stories. We rationalize to no end, often explaining these things we don’t understand to others. While in reality almost everything is beyond our grasp.
Sure, we catch shards of truth occasionally—those shadows on the wall from Plato’s Cave—but most all is vapor and smoke and mirrors.
As Fulton Sheen once said, “It is easy to find truth, though it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.”
A house cannot stand without a solid foundation. Neither, for that matter, can a decent human being.
I don’t know much, but I do know the below:
I love you.
Life is beautiful.
God is good.
Family is everything.
Faith is vital.
Friendship is a gift.
It is said that wherever you go, there you are. I intend to live while I am alive.
How about you?
What are those things that you know, those truths that rest burrowed bone-deep within you?
What are those truths submerged in your heart of hearts, tensing at the very fibers and crevices of your being, those things that you all too often stuff away like you would a bundle of soiled clothes in the washer?
The unvarnished truth is rough and jagged, however—at its heart—it serves to inspire you to reach your full human potential.
Sure, a good hard look in the mirror likely points out discrepancies and failures and blemishes but only to make a larger point—to be able to say: Look at you. You’re better than this. You can do more. You need to do more.
I leave you with the sage words of Charles Bukowski.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,