Friday, February 9, 2007

The word for today is "simple". Two women's magazines - maybe more - now use that word in their titles; "Real Simple" (cough, cough) and "Quick & Simple".

Anyone who has picked up the hefty tome that is Real Simple will realize that the magazine's goal IS very simple - to provide as many advertisements for expensive home products and clothing as possible. The magazine is HUGE. You can use it for weight lifting exercises. And it really does offer some of the most attractive advertisements of any "women's" magazine. Its stated purpose is to teach its readers how to enjoy the "simple" things in life - like gardening. Then, the magazine offers its readers the $75 flower cutting pail of attractive galvanized steel and the must-have gardening clogs for $$$ (I forget how much. I turned the page so fast it made me dizzy.)
Other simple pleasures? Cooking - um, I never heard of half the ingredients and I'm an equal opportunity veggie eater. But enough about that.

"Quick & Simple" is truly quick. Published weekly, it is full of bite size articles. This magazine is designed for the woman on the go - soccer mom, working mom - overscheduled and stressed. It offers mini-articles on anything, food, styles, hair care, finances, parenting. I am attempting Quick & Simple withdrawal because if I buy every single issue it costs a little over $6 a month - $72 a year.
Still it's not all that simple. It has a fair amount of ads and some of its articles are actually advertisements for objects.

Now I will try to be fair and balanced. "Real Simple" offers a couple of neat features. It has a monthly column on new uses for old objects. Sometimes these ideas are really clever. So, I'm glad that my library carries this magazine.

"Quick & Simple" is just plain fun but it offers bandaids for problems that often need major surgery. I'll still pick up an issue now and then. I'm a hopeless women's magazine junkie and at $1.59 "Quick & Simple" is a cheap fix.

Back to the word - simple. What does it mean? Webster's Unabridged Dictionary lists 16 different definitions and follows that up with a dozen phrases that use the word "simple". The first definition is "having or consisting of only one part". Other more common meanings include "feeble-minded", "having few parts", "unadorned", ""easy to do or understand", "without pretense or ostentation, natural". Then we have "being of little significance", "of low rank", "having no additions or qualifications", "having no guile" , and "foolish". After that we have the meaning of the word as used in music, law and science and the aforementioned dozen phrases. Pretty simple. huh?

Considering all the possible meanings of the word, "Real Simple" could be truly simple, depending on the definition you use.

My personal definition of the word "simple" is something that is plain ("unadorned") or easy to understand. In my opinion, a simple life is one that is not bulging with things to do and places to go and certainly not looking for things to buy. I don't envision a lifestyle that tries to be posh without spending the cash. A simple lifestyle does not care about arugula (a word I love because it's just a salad green, for goodness sake). That lifestyle cares about having just enough to live comfortably.

There is a bumper sticker that reads "Live Simply so that others may simply live." This insinuates that simplicity's intent is to share the wealth. Well, maybe and what's wrong with that? But simplicity can be it's own reason for being. In a simple life, a person appreciates breezes and clouds and the color of the grass in the late afternoon, things that can't buy ads in a magazine.

What I'm doing right now, for instance, is not necessarily simple. I don't NEED a computer and the computer makes my present pasttime possible. And we could all live quite comfortably without Internet access. I know a lot of people who do. So is it possible to live a truly simple life and not get left behind in technology's dust?

There's your puzzle for the day. Think on it. I may add something to this in my next post or - if I'm truly lucky - one of my readers may. Until next time, simply enjoy where you are.

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