Growing up in Ohio, you couldn’t go a day without hearing three words: take it easy.
As a fond farewell I’ve heard this exclamation so many times it’s ingrained. Midwesterners are programmed to recite this locution whenever a conversation or meal or meeting adjourns. Goodbye. See you later. Take it easy.
But the other day, as I waved goodbye to the FedEx delivery woman leaving my office in Missoula, I surprised myself when out of nowhere I hollered “take it simple.”
I have no idea why I blurted simple instead of easy, but I did, and I liked the subtle change, a slight twist of phrase that radically altered the idiom’s meaning. So I began using it as my new farewell—take it simple—in emails and face to face. (You’re welcome to do the same.)
Although both words seem similar, easy and simple are not synonyms. In fact, if anything they are antonyms. Something is easy when it’s achieved without great effort. Simplicity on the other hand involves plenty of deliberate effort, intention, rigor, attention to detail. A disastrous forest fire is easy; elegant fireworks are simple.
You see, easy just happens, but simple is planned, carefully curated, well executed.
Me? I’m a simple man. I live a simple life, not an easy one.
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