In Praise of Nuance or Why You Should Appreciate the Shadows

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Sunset
There is no other you. And there never will be. 

Use your inner strength, your very own subtleties and nuances that make you You.

In his thoughtful book “In Praise of Shadows,” Junichiro Tanizaki, a famous Japanese novelist, argues the importance of shadows and subdued light, half tones and harmony between light and its shades.

Whether it’s your room, your food, or your pen and paper, learn to appreciate the fine glow of undertones.

The fact is – the world is not black and white. It’s mostly filled with grey hues.

The sun and moon will continue to rise and set until the world’s final hour, but the fragile colors of sunrise and sunset are what shape our moods.

You must be a shadow first to appreciate the light.

And to make the best of it, learn to adapt yourself and your skills, and listen to your intuition. Find the touch points between you and the world.

Think of yourself as a paintbrush who can choose any color, in any tone, rather than a linear fountain pen. Use this brush to paint your masterpiece.

Dream. Act. Dream.

Listen to yourself. Trust your inner core. Find time to embrace nature. Enjoy the enigmatic sounds of an awakening forest, welcome the salty breeze of the ocean on your face, touch the dew of spring’s first violets.

Fine-tune your soul to feel the beauty of this imperfect world. It is yours to keep, but only for a short while.

If you’re looking for a specific recipe to succeed, do these four things:

1. Think

2. Create.

3. Simplify

4. Give

 

1. Think

Think, because you are human and you have this luxury. 

Don’t waste all of your time on distractions; dedicate some time to ponder and poke at eternal questions.

Thinking is a hard process, a habit that you need to acquire.

So where should you start?

Take things apart, as Richard Feynman recommends. Make sure that you understand the basics. Then ask questions. And then some more.

Never stop learning. Never.

As Will Durant put it, “The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds.”

Listen to what Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s best buddy and long-term associate, has to say:

“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”

Be that person.

2. Create

Whether you know it or not, you are born to create.

There is nothing more exciting than to create something new, something that has never existed before.

It’s like looking at eternity.



You can create books, articles, and images, even children. (And yes, you may want to wait on children.)

It’s amazing – the more you create, the more you acquire capacity to create. As Octavia E. Butler says, “Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.”

Isn’t that powerful?

When you create, be original. The secret of being original is simple: be honest with yourself. 

Sometimes your soul will give you hints you need to listen to.

If you listen and follow, then you are close, very close to being original.

Don’t think, however, that your first creation will be beautiful. It may well be. Yet, most realistically, it will be messy. Just like when a baby is born.

It’s messy, loud, wet, imperfect.

Still when a mother sees her baby’s first smile – there’s nothing more important, beautiful, and perfect than that baby. At that moment the whole world becomes smaller than this smile.

Your creation is your first smile to the world. It’s a signal that yet another poet, writer, designer, chef, artist, teacher or engineer is born.

Whatever you do, find time to create something original. You will never regret it.

Start now.

3. Simplify

You have to kill the noise around you, or the noise will kill you.

 

The noise in your head will find you in the deepest cave and drag you out to distract you from thinking and creating.

The world is one gigantic puzzle. You have limited time to find your space there. Don’t waste time.

When you will find your spot, your perfect spot in the puzzle, you will have found your home inside yourself.

But beware, if you live everywhere, you live nowhere.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, emotionally, physically, or creatively. Leave white space in your life to replenish your capacity.

And for that the key is to simplify.

 For Leo Babauta, a bestselling author and the founder of Zen Habits blog, a simple life is “eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what’s important to you.”

You don’t need stuff to be happy. Hard to imagine, but it’s true.


How do you start? 

I suggest the 10 Laws of Simplicity coined by John Maeda, the bestselling author of the Laws of Simplicity.

According to Maeda, “the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.”

This will help you to learn more about yourself. The fewer things you have surrounding you, the more time you have to study your depth. It is fascinating what you can see there – good and bad, but it’s all yours.

Finally, we come to the most important quality of any accomplished individual. It is giving that makes you human.



4. Give

Give yourself to others and don’t expect anything in return. That’s the key to self-fulfillment.
 Volunteer. Help seniors. Help the young. Save animals. Share your time with the lost and disgraced.

Listen and share advice, even though your advice may seem unimportant to you at the moment.
Some people have saved lives by doing this.

 It’s only when you give that you will achieve satisfaction.

Let’s face it – we’re so troubled these days. 

And if we don’t attempt to pursue the greater good above our own personal (and often egotistical) goals, we will never truly realize our ability to be heroes.

Give thanks to others. Thank your parents, your friends, your classmates. Even strangers.

And one more thing.

At the end of the day, find time to give thanks, meditate and reflect.

Regardless of how deeply you believe, choose the One you know to thank for your ability to think, create, and simplify.

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