I have been thinking a lot about my article, In Defense of Hard, which I wrote almost two years ago. I never have completely moved on from it—to this day, I try to find better ways to communicate the thoughts behind the article.Through all my thinking, I keep going back to the word profound and how few things being made today can be described as such. There is a exhaustive emphasis on simple or easy, but not profound.
What We Come Back To
I often look back at the things that stay present in my mind through the years. The things that I keep coming back to. Most of the things on that list I would not immediately be described as simple. They may be simple to use/learn/consume, but that’s not why I keep coming back to them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The things I keep coming back to have immense depth—they encourage a long-term relationship because there is so much to it.
I have a deep love for the game of baseball. I started playing as a child. I went to my college specifically to play baseball. The game is now one of the most cherished experiences my wife and I share together. I stopped following the game for a stretch of 5 years, but I came back to it. I have listened to countless games and have played innumerable innings and I never grown tired of it. I feel like there’s still so much to learn and experience.
Baseball has had a formative and permanent impact on my life. Not because it was simple or easy to pick up, but because of the nuance and details—enough to devote a lifetime to fully learn. It’s those kinds of experiences that create life-long love affairs. Simple is an admirable quality, but alone it provides transient convenience. Profound is timeless, remembered. Profound shapes people’s lives.
The word profound stems from the Latin word profundus, which has a broader meaning than its descendent. I found this definition in particular interesting:
- deep, profound
- intense, extreme, profound; immoderate
- boundless, vast; bottomless
- thick, dense
- obscure, unknown, mysterious
What I love about this definition is that it paints a more accurate, well-rounded picture of something with depth. The profound is often dense, obscure and complex—it’s in its nature. It’s that density and complexity which makes something with depth less accessible. The end result is often something not immediately approachable and often has a considerable learning curve. This is normally seen as an impediment, but it also presents a compelling opportunity. A steep learning curve, balanced by the promise of a meaningful return can lead to long-term personal investment and result in a real sense of accomplishment. These are experiences we remember.
Profound is Timeless
Designing a profound experience is by no means trivial—we’d all be lucky to do it once in our life. our meaningful experiences are deeply personal and highly subjective. Focusing on convenience is considerably easier and less risky. However, their shallow focus makes them less crucial to our lives. If you design something that’s easy, most will like it—until the next thing comes along. If you design something that’s meaningful, some will love it—and remember it. The things that last are profound.