Less is more

Let’s think about this. How can less be more?

I used to go skiing. I loved the huge mountains gleaming in the brilliant sunshine and the sense of freedom as I hurtled down them. So then I thought, ‘if I took my Walkman I could listen to my favourite music at the same time as I skied down the mountain – the experience would be twice as good!’

But of course it wasn’t. It was half as good. I couldn’t concentrate on the music because I had to concentrate on the skiing and visa versa.

The first time I went into the recording studio with a band I was reminded of this paradox. To make a piece of music sound more powerful, we thought, you simply keep adding more sound.

But if you didn’t know what you were doing, adding more sound didn’t make the music sound more powerful, it made it muddier. That’s because frequencies interfere with each other and if you’re not familiar with how frequencies operate and some of the illusions that they can create, you are left disappointed and confused with your attempts to make something ‘good’.

Then I tried my hand at creative writing. The more words the better, right?

Wrong.

Isn’t life like that. You imagine by adding more and more things to your life you are going to make it ‘good’. On a purely materialistic level (which, let’s face it, most of the world operates on) the concept of adding to your material wealth is doomed from the outset but we keep doing it. We never seem to learn this fundamental truth. More material goods simply devalues the sum total of the goods in your possession.

If you don’t have an ultimate purpose for these material goods, what value are they? An example is an art gallery; more paintings can lead to a greater appreciation of art and the human condition. The art raises consciousness. Material goods for their own sake does nothing for you except to distract you for a while before you need to relieve the boredom with yet more stuff.

How many times are we told this and how many times do we fail to grasp the profundity of this wisdom?

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