The luxury of simplicity

Back in August 2018, Panagiotis Michalatos and I sat down at the back porch of his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to chat for a couple of hours. Pan, as people often call him, is one of the most intelligent persons I've ever met, and I was lucky enough to have him share his idiosyncratic worldview over a microphone with me.1

The way he lives and works, the clothes he wears, and the way he designs or codes, inspired me to think of one word: minimalism.

Minimalism is the reduction of anything to its essential elements, stripping out the superfluous and bringing to light nuances that might otherwise ego unnoticed. The result of that reduction is what we often call simple.

Paradoxically, simplifying any process, artifact, or concept, is complex. Minimalism and simplicity are hard. Our nomad predecessors would clutter a space and, after its use, would move somewhere else, start from scratch, and let nature clean up the mess. But we're stuck in one place.

In our times, minimalism often implies getting rid of possessions and keeping only the things we use and value. Certainly, not something everyone can afford.

As Pan told me on his podcast episode, when you have too little, you want to hold on to anything that comes your way, because you can loose it immediately. "You need to have the luxury to choose to simplify your life."

  1. If you listen to Pan's episode, pay attention to the background sounds. You'll not only hear birds chirping and insect sounds coming and going as the night falls but golf irons hitting the ball, tree leaves shook by the wind, and buses passing. 

April 14, 2020
Nono Martínez Alonso

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