Esteeming the Essential

As it is New Year’s Eve and the clock is counting down to the magic hour I simply want to close the year with a brief reminder to esteem the essential and eliminate the nonessential. So many truths are reinforced for me via my reading and this topic is no different. I recently read Old Songs in a New Café by Robert James Waller and he shares some timely insight that can help us move forward into a new and better year ahead. For when all is said and done, no matter how manicured our lawns or how spotless our homes, for example, we need to make time for each other.

“There’s also the problem of doing away with the clutter. Like good composition of any kind, coming to grips with life requires a certain elegance of lifestyle, not in the sense of being fancy, but rather a consideration of what can be discarded in favor of simplicity,” writes Waller. “I propose there is an insidious plot to steal our time in the world we have created, and it’s important to get rid of as many encumbrances as possible, including lawn care and excessive housekeeping. The sign my wife posted a long time ago says it rather nicely: ‘Today I Cherish, Tomorrow I Dust.’”

The Pursuit of Elegance

I realize my last post also covered a book about Steve Jobs but I just read another thought provoking one along the same lines, albeit not one exclusively about Apple, and since the movie Jobs is out I thought it timely to write about. It is titled In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing by Matthew E. May and it presented some good stuff worth sharing here.

“Apple lovers had become accustomed to Jobs’s flare for spare. They knew that minimalism, especially relating to buttons, was his obsession. The keyboard for the original Macintosh had no direction keys for the cursor. Until 2005, the Mac mouse had only one button, rather than the traditional two of most computers. Mr. Jobs had long criticized industry-standard multibutton computer mice as ‘inelegant,’” writes May.

“He had removed on/off power buttons on desktop units. He had removed buttons from elevators in multilevel Apple retail stores, along with standard retail queues and counters. Rarely if ever could he be seen wearing a shirt with buttons,” May adds. One of the striking things to me about that statement is how Jobs even applied minimalist principles to his wardrobe.

It is something I have done myself. While I often wear shirts with buttons I actually prefer ones without, such as zippered pullovers, sweatshirts and turtlenecks like Jobs loved. And whereas Jobs favored lace-up running shoes, I prefer slip-on footwear like loafers, further minimizing my dressing time, not to mention time spent going through security checkpoints.