In Search of Simplicity

There’s an old proverb that says, “Do not despise humble beginnings”. While I doubt any of us would really “despise” a small start, I know that I can be pretty judgmental, condescending, or whatever you want to call it, toward those just starting with baby steps. Surprisingly enough, I even project that attitude toward myself at times. I let a fear of looking inept keep me from attempting to learn to swim for a long time. Even now, I feel self-conscious when I go to a crowded pool and start my “splash and dash” workouts. If we don’t have all the cool toys and perfect form, we’re afraid we’ll look too simplistic. But a run the other morning reminded me how nice simplicity can be sometimes.

I’ve spent the last 10 days in Montreal, where the weather can’t decide if it’s early Summer or late Winter. Daytime highs have hit 85, while evening lows are slightly above freezing. I’ve been glad to do all of my runs outside, even when it’s a little bit cool, but that led to the problem of gloves. I have my trusty Nike Dri Fit shirt, jacket, tights, etc, but I am currently gloveless. I lost my favorite (and surprisingly cheap) running gloves back in December. Actually, I only lost one; however, one glove is as useless as me without my wife. Since I was in Montreal at the time, I had to buy another pair… But the only ones I could find we’re very thick, and pretty pricey. I used them throughout the winter, but they were never really comfortable… Too warm with them, too cold without.

When I came back this time, the forecast made it look like I could live without them. I had a more lightweight, high tech pair that I lost during the Little Rock Marathon. They were some cosmic fabric that was very slick. One of them slipped from my grasp while I was trying to down some nutrition at a mile split, never to be recovered. I never liked them anyway… To slick to get a grip on anything.

So here I was in Montreal, trying to do my morning runs, but my hands were freezing. As I walked through the local version of Target one evening, I saw the solution; a $1.50 pair of cotton work gloves. They were warm, I had enough dexterity to push my watch buttons, and I could slip them off and on easily. Plus, they were great for wiping sweat from my forehead. Now, before I break into song about my brown cotton gloves (to the tune of Red Solo Cup), let me say that I really like all the newfangled stuff we have to choose from. In some ways, the gear can make running, swimming, and biking more enjoyable. But sometimes, the answer isn’t high speed, low drag. Sometimes it’s really simple, like a pair of brown cotton work gloves.

There are lots of other areas where simplicity is king, if we just let it reign. All those diets out there, promising to work miracles? How about “eat right and drink some water”? “Finish your milk”. “Go outside and play”. Remember when that sounded like a punishment? How hard do we all struggle to find enough hours in the day to go “play” now?

So, the next time you are faced with a tough question/issue/challenge, start out simple. There isn’t always a simple answer, but I’m willing to bet that we usually miss the simple answer under our noses while we’re focused on finding the more complicated one. And if not, you probably haven’t lost anything anyway.

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