I’m going to a baby shower this afternoon for a woman who had the inspired notion to register for gift cards to Whole Foods, something I am absolutely going to copy if I have the opportunity one day. My mom, sister-in-law, and I combined funds for one of these gift cards, and I volunteered to pick it up (really, I will use any excuse to go to Whole Foods). We thought it would be nice to add something more “gifty” and baby-oriented to the present as well, and initially I was going to grab something small off her registry, until I saw this:

Batteries not necessary

Yes, my friends. I offer you the classic wooden ring skill toy. Inexpensive, simple, and ironically “modern” in its retro-minimalism.

What initially struck me about this toy was the clear memories I have of not my own model, but the plastic version my younger siblings played with. I can clearly recall these then tiny people engrossed in the activity of successfully stacking the rings. Once the rings were mastered, they moved on to the intermediate level, stacking wooden letter blocks. Eventually, they entered the expert phase: making words out of the letters on their stacking blocks.

The classic toys are just so wonderfully simple, yet still attractive and beneficial, dare I say, even “fun.” It is this very simplicity, perhaps, that is the key to their staying power. They might even become trendy. After all, the “simple” has an undeniable modern appeal.

Take, for instance, running. There could not be a simpler way to exercise. You need your own body and, ideally, space. But space isn’t even an absolute necessity as it is possible to run in place. Same story with yoga. At its core, yoga is about moving and contorting your own body. No gimmicks. No energy gels. Just controlled movement.

Of course, we do have a knack for complicating the simple, and I’m absolutely guilty of falling prey to the allure of fancy accoutrements. We’ve yuppified running with fancy footwear that, ironically, is supposed to mimic bare feet. (I know. I own a pair of these and love them). We have a whole consumer market for running apparel that wicks away our sweat and increasings aerodynamics. For yoga, we have mats made from sticky tree rubber to increase stability, four million different styles of yoga pants, and even yoga gloves and socks. And lets not forget the countless popular publications that repeat the same information every month and offer the occasionally useful smoothie recipe for burning more calories.

Still, when stripped down to their basic selves, running and yoga are inherently uncomplicated. They are simple, like the classic wooden skill toy. Even though I have a tendency to pile on layers of unnecessaries, maybe it’s that simplicity that I find attractive. Unlike the complex, the simple always seems possible.

~Arrivederci

 

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