Keeping it simple

A simple cup. Photo: sea turtle, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

A simple cup. Photo: sea turtle, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

By common consensus, we live in a complicated time. Too much information, too many options, go, go go. But does it have to be as complicated as we make it out to be? At one time, walking down the chips aisle in the grocery store involved complex and sometimes stressful decision-making for me. Flat or wavy–fried or baked–Barbecue? French Onion? Salt and Vinegar? Lay’s, Wise, Cape Cod? Small, medium or large? It’s a profitable enough business that all choices are available, even in corner stores. But that time is over for me.

Eventually, you just gotta pick a side. A long time back I picked big bags of Wavy Lay’s, which I am crunching on as I write. This is a decision I will never have to make again. I’ve done all the experimentation I need to do. Some of the others are OK, some are landfill–but I’m with Wavy. I can spot the package from the end of the aisle, slam dunk in the cart, done.

And I keep it simple at the local coffee bar. I don’t want latte, or cappuccino, I don’t want half anything, or skim anything, or foam, or flavor shots, or espresso shots, or sprinkles. I want coffee, what you get when you pour hot water through ground coffee beans. All my brain cells then sing The Caffeine Song in unison. Happy days.

Likewise, I don’t want onion rings on my burger, or blue cheese, or salsa, or garlic mayo. I don’t want it on a bagel or a croissant. I want beef on a bun–cheese OK, bacon OK, ketchup–yes please. Simple. And the next time I come–I’ll want the same. And while I enjoy green tea and black tea, I do not enjoy green tea with echinacea and ginseng spritzer. I don’t want aloe vera juice in my sody pop. I take it straight up.

Not that I’m a total stick in the mud. I’ll try most new things once. But then I pick a side. That’s why all my socks are black, and why I wear blue jeans and running shoes to everything short of a Kennedy Honors dinner. Keeping it simple preserves my decision-making bandwidth for the more important choices in life like–Miami Beach or Wellfleet? Ottawa or Quebec? DIY or hire a guy? Pitch or keep?

After a certain point, my decision-making does not improve with practice. So I’ve decided to keep it simple.


12 Comments on “Keeping it simple”

  1. Hank says:

    Got it! I’m with you all the way, Dale.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Amen, Dale
    Some choice is nice. Too much is a pain.
    Sometimes the best choice is no choice.
    One of the oldest tricks in marketing/sales, maybe the oldest, is asking, “Which one do you want? The red one or the blue one.”

  3. Deb Packard says:

    The wavy chips?! And I love different lattes. And for socks, do I have a different message I want to give to the world today? Oi – wish I could reduce my choices!!

  4. janine cook says:

    Amen Dale. Keep it simple and don’t over reach companies…. you’ll lose more customers then you gain. you want jalapenos eat them on the side.

  5. Sue Grimm Hanley says:

    Dale, you just eloquently explained the feeling I always get in the potato chip aisle — and in many other life situations! The more I ponder your words, the more they help me. Thanks! And Happy 2014!

  6. Robert Horn says:

    The Shakers had the right idea: “Tis A Gift to be Simple, Tis a Gift to be Free”. The less clutter I have the happier I am. It gives me more time for the important decisions: Should I take the dog for a walk in the woods, take a bicycle ride or maybe a slow ride on my antique motorcycle on quiet back roads?

  7. Lucy Martin says:

    Jeez, you can still eat potato chips and wear the same size blue jeans? I have to pick one or the other. It’s a tough choice too. Enjoy!

  8. Dennis Pucci says:

    AMEN! My epiphany was at Pharmhouse, trying to buy bandaids! My only problem with your list is finding a place that will agree to produce a burger that is RARE Enough!

  9. Ellen B says:

    “Seems I was born
    With too many choices
    Now what am I going to do
    With all these extra things
    As they serve to confuse me, really”

    James Taylor, “Me and My Guitar”

  10. Lenore says:

    Choices or decisions? How fortunate we are to have them!

  11. Karen says:

    “Delicious monotony” with a side of “I’ll try it once” does help keep life simple! I always enjoy your comments, Dale.

  12. Barbara Bown says:

    Love your column, BUT… I investigated my husband’s recently sent emails to see if he did indeed write your column for you this week (same ole food, beverages, attire). Try to remind yourself that variety is the spice of life!

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