The Simplest Things in Life Are the Most Extraordinary

Kyle and I did a thing yesterday.

Paulo Coehlo quote the simplest things in life are the most extraordinary

Three years ago this January, he and I were talking on one of our usual road trips from our Illinois hometown to our then home in Iowa, and we landed on the topic of tattoos. Our dating anniversary was around the corner so maybe we were feeling sentimental, but we decided one day we’d get a couple’s tattoo.

I started looking up quotes from “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo, a book that had a big impact on both of us the previous year and had made its way into our wedding ceremony. It didn’t take long to find the right one:

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary, and only the wise can see them.”

Yesterday, I got a version of the first part of that quote tattooed in my handwriting on the inside of my right arm. (See how Kyle’s turned out here!)


In the three years that have passed since we first discussed this tattoo, the quote’s meaning has evolved and solidified for me. At first, I saw it mostly as another way of unifying me and Kyle and this sort of minimalist journey we’ve been on. But several personal situations have made me think of the quote.

Binge drinking when I didn’t feel comfortable being myself around people (this is always the biggest one for me). Spending too much time and energy trying to decide how to best spend my time and energy.  The first half of 2019 when I piled freelance jobs on top of a full-time job on top of a professional development program on top of volunteering on top of trying to be Housewife of the Year, when all I wanted to do was write a book.

I have a natural tendency to overcomplicate my life and end up crying and regretting not doing what I knew deep down what was most important to me, what I held valuable.

Each time these situations became too much to handle, I thought of our tattoos. It would be nice to have this reminder in my handwriting, a physical form of my conscious (and Paulo Coehlo’s) telling me that keeping it simple is awesome.  That I accept simplicity and Kyle accepts my simplicity, and I don’t have to try so hard. The good angel on my shoulder leaving a written, permanent permission to allow the joy that comes with slowing down.

Whether it’s not drinking, getting rest, or turning down an offer. Simply playing with Yoshi, laughing at Kyle’s funny impressions, hanging out at my friend’s apartment while we tell stories, calling my parents, and, perhaps most importantly, following another piece advice from Paulo Coehlo, listening to what my heart has to say.

The tattoo is a unity with Kyle, but it also unifies me to myself and my values, which I never want to forget.

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