The Simple Things

Sometimes, despite all of life’s complications, things can be really simple. 

You might go to the doctor, for instance, because you feel completely rotten. You might hope that the complex history of medicine is going to help you out. You might discover though that all the doctor says is something unscientific and borderline parental like “you need to get some rest” which might make you think “Ha! Rest! You obviously don’t understand my life” and then go home and pass out face-first on the bed for eighteen hours and dream of you and the barista from your local cafe trying to escape from your old high school, which is (a fact that for some reason does not surprise you) underwater, and then maybe you wake up and it’s a whole other day and you realise actually maybe you need some rest. Or maybe this isn’t a universal experience.

Point is, in the 21st century, that’s what we’ve come up with for when we get sick. Get some rest. Pass out and your body will repair itself for reasons we don’t quite comprehend. We also don’t really understand sleep, or dreams. Because some things remain simple. 

Not everything is complicated. This is a Public Service Announcement. 

Leaves are simple. Complex in design, sophisticated in function (they are, after all, constantly engaged in the act of saving our lives) but hold two leaves from the same tree in your hand and you will notice that, like all excellent design, they look so simple you wish you’d thought of it yourself.

The unadulterated thrill of a puppy. The unadulterated thrill of two puppies! So simple. So pure. So hard not to be delighted.

The thumbs-up gesture. Never improved upon. Always helpful across a crowded room. Nobody needs to write any research papers on how to improve that one. 

The feeling of being in the middle of a thoroughly exhilarating entertainment experience. Your team winning the grand final. A gig that lights you up. A comedian whose words feel like the first words in the world. 

Eggs on toast.

A cup of tea.

Holding somebody’s hand.

The fact that a banana comes in the packaging.

The smell that takes you back. Happens in an instance. Lifts you out of yourself and reminds you of yourself, all at once.

The irrepressible smile and hands-to-your-face breath-holding of pure pride in someone you love achieving something. A kid on stage at the school concert. A friend who just got the job. The fact that humans can want to cry with happiness because of how someone else feels is really quite incredible. 

Reading. Leaving your own life for a bit, without having to move an inch.

A friendship, however bonkers, with an animal. Whatever else might be going on in your life, if you have someone to trip over in the kitchen who also really likes being scrunched behind the ears, you’re doing okay.

The sea. It’s such a simple idea, so well executed. A big well done to everybody involved.

Honeycomb. Genius architecture, excellent example of several mathematical principles, tastes incredible. Again, my compliments to the whole team.


The fact that we are not our enemies. For we wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Not even our worst enemies. Which means… even our worst enemies are being justly punished. 

Cicadas on a summer night.

The expression “God’s green earth”, especially when deployed by women of a certain age who are incredulous about their partners. “Where on God’s green earth he found all those golf balls I cannot tell you”, for example. Or “Where on God’s green earth did you put those scissors, darl?” There is something intrinsically hilarious about this that I cannot put my finger on, and when it is delivered well, it is affectionate and funny and speaks well of everybody involved.

 The couple of kids I saw the other day counting their coins before going into a shop and emerging with an icy pole, which they then shared out the front of the shop, handing it back and forth while chatting. One of them occasionally bounced a tennis ball. Only once, while one kid had it for slightly longer, did the other kid do a “come on, my turn” gesture. Nice to know an icy pole is still the best value for money. Nice to know people still share coins for treats.

Sometimes, things are vexed and complex and confusing. Not always. Read a book. Share an icy pole. Go simple. This has been a Public Service Announcement. 

This was originally printed in The Big Issue. Please buy a Big Issue when you next get a chance.