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ON SIMPLICITY: A LOVE LETTER TO MY WARM BED

“JOY IS THE SIMPLEST FORM OF GRATITUDE.” - KARL BARTHE

There are two great quotes that I use. One is almost a daily mantra, the other is more likely used when the daily mantra doesn’t work.

Daily, I like to remind myself, and others: “It’s not complicated. It’s just hard.”

And the follow-on, of course, is the “KISS" rule guys. Keep It Simple Stupid.”


We tend to overcomplicate our lives. I’m not quite sure where this comes from. Whether it is gender relations (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus), generational relations, company procedures, parenting, training, you name it. The world just keeps on adding layers of complexity, and I’m not sure if it’s all a good thing.

I used to be able to go for a run without needing my Garmin to be charged up and my newest playlist loaded. There was a time when the biggest attribution gaff you could make would be to call an academic “Dr” instead of “Professor”. And restaurants all over the world are needing to accommodate the Vegans, Fruitarians, Pescatarians, and Carnivores alike. It’s quite a lot to keep track of, especially if you’re a limited attention span Enneagram 7.

That’s why I love the simple things. Like the way, summer turns to winter. And the rains come, and I’m glad – and immensely grateful – that I get to snuggle up with the family in my warm bed. This made me think, hey. Warm bed is probably, in my world, the most simplest of terms. A warm bed is a warm bed in my mother tongue (spelled the same), and my second language, English.

Warm bed. Are there any other pairings of words that are spelled the same and mean the same in multiple languages? They are not said the same, though. The pronunciation is markedly different in English and Afrikaans, the “R” getting a lot more accentuation in the Dutch-based Afrikaans, and the “d” really pops.

So it looks the same, feels the same, but doesn’t sound the same. When two people who speak different languages drop this term, they might both miss it in context. They might not know that they are speaking of the exact same thing, because the subtle differences limit understanding.

So a warm bed is a warm bed. But the world is a complicated place, and things still get lost in translation, even when nothing needs to be translated.

Warm, in both languages, entails a physical temperature or bodily state of being. But it also denotes a way of being with others, acting with warmth, to give a warm smile. In Afrikaans, it can also have the additional use of denoting either extreme inebriation or high physical attractiveness. Sometimes both at the same time. It’s a great word, implying summer, comfort, safety, and closeness all at the same time.

Bed is not just a thing on which you sleep. It can also be a place where beauty flourishes, as in a bed of roses. The bottom of a body of water, as in the sea bed or the river bed. And as a verb, the thing that you do when you put things to rest when you make a firm decision and you close off a chapter. “We’re going to put this baby to bed.”

Both words have spectacular variety of application separately, but in conjunction, they narrow down to a singular term: When the world outside becomes too cold, it’s that place of comfort and safety where you lay your head to rest.

Much like joy is the simplest form of gratitude, we probably need to add something to gratitude to get to that simplicity. Intentional Gratitude, maybe? Practiced Gratitude? The same way we have one simple singular idea come out of those two great words “Warm” and “Bed”, in the same way, we can cultivate Joy through Practiced Gratitude. And practicing gratitude is not a complicated thing to do – it’s just hard as a habit.

Warm bed. You’re a rock star. A multilingual winter champion of simplicity and focus, even if you don’t always sound the same. Other words can learn a lot from you!

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