Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beauty in Simplicity

It is hard to deny that we live in a world of ever-increasing challenge.

Global financial pressures, the human race’s need to have a certain number of wars going on at any given point, the number of people who go hungry in an empowered society, corruption and waste in government, churches and charities designed to serve others and a plethora of other things can sometimes make it difficult to see the positive side of humanity.

Even when faced with challenges like global climate change, we often prefer to insult and fight each other rather than to come together to collect real data and to solve any issues that exist.

President Ronald Reagan had this interesting quote when addressing the UN General Assembly many years ago:

Perhaps we need some outside universal threat.  I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.

Some days, I’m not sure that the arrival of aliens would be enough.

In a world where the media would rather fill our head with gloom and doom instead of a blend of reality AND optimism, it can be difficult to wonder where we are headed.

In the complex world of strategy and global technology architecture that I live in, I often see people who prefer to fill their world with complexity, either to hide something (including their own incompetence), to pretend to be something that they are not or simply because they have the misunderstanding that everything is a complex problem that requires a complex solution.

And then there are some who believe that the existence of complexity can be used to justify their existence, which is why some people feel threatened when people like me bring an approach that simplifies the complex wherever possible.

It is because of this plethora of complexity (most of it being unnecessary) that I appreciate and savor the beauty that comes with simplicity.

Especially from sources that are unexpected

One of the few television programs I watch is America’s Got Talent.  My reasons are many as I explain in an earlier blog “Putting It All On the Line”.

Last night I was startled by a simple but powerful performance by Joe Castillo who blends art, light and music to tell compelling stories.

How inspiring can someone be who has never outgrown the childhood love of playing in the sand?

Take a look for yourself.

Joe Castillo–America’s Got Talent


For those of you who celebrate a strong faith, here is another example of his work:

Joe Castillo–The Passion


And finally, one that touched my heart deeply as I think about the friends I lost in 9/11.  Warning – this may be difficult for some people to watch.

Joe Castillo–Never Forget–The 9/11 Story


I know many people who, in striving to find their life purpose, solutions to life problems or solutions to problems in general, seek out the most complex solutions.

Because they require complex solutions to often simple problems, they spend an inordinate amount of time creating these solutions.  Sometimes the solution is so complex, they never actually finish defining or creating it and give up in exhaustion (or in the case of many government and business projects, when they have run out of money).

Oftentimes the answers to many questions in our personal world, our professional lives and in Life in general actually lay in the simplest of things.

But in order to see those solutions, we must be willing to open our eyes, our mind and our heart to the simplicity that exists in a world of complexity.

We need to ignore the insistence of others that there must be a complex answer.

After all, it’s ok to put up our hand once in a while and demand silence as we seek answers.

When we do this, we are invited to see things in a different way.

As Joe Castillo invites us with a little sand, a little music and a little light.

In service and servanthood,



  1. Over thinking and adding needless complexity are some of my greatest sins. I've learned these lessons the hard way. Great post. Also, I love Joe's sand stories. The world needs more gifts like that.

  2. Your "greatest sins" as you put it are in fact your greatest opportunities to learn ... so they are in fact your "lessons" and not your "sins".