Rarely do we called incredibly complex things “elegant”. There is natural elegance in simplicity.

So, while the world tends to focus a lot on the balance of a million factors in our personal lives, our careers, our personalities, and our time-management, I like finding moments of entirely self-contained, elegantly simple balance.

I recall an equation many of us learned in high-school chemistry. The Ideal Gas Law is expressed as pV = nRT. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the fact that the state of the gas is determined by just pressure, volume, and temperature.

Every time I make a fine cup of loose-leaf tea, I consider that simple balance. There are three variables to making a “perfect” cup of tea:

  • The temperature of the water
  • The ratio of leaves to water
  • The steeping time

Any one of the three is so easy to mess up. But the reward for getting them all right is something far more than the sum of its parts. From the elegant balance emerges something leaps and bounds ahead of the “not-quite” results.

And continuing on the food track, I have a lot more respect for an excellent meal made with three ingredients, than for one made with 30 ingredients. I watched a fine chef on TV make a gourmet lobster mac & cheese with nothing more than cheese, macaroni, and lobster. I admire the artistry required to operate within such constraints, and to still come away with something brilliant, “perfect”.

We rarely have controlled opportunities to find that brilliance with simple pieces balanced elegantly. But I’m keeping my eyes open for it.