Graphs : Simple → Complex → Simple

I’m an Economist

So, there are a few things that are true to who I am at my core.

One of these things is that I am an economist. I spent four years studying economics in college and it is the main way I view the world. I always think in terms of costs verse benefits. I monetize situations. And I love trying to graph everyday experiences.

Graphs make you take the complexity of a situation and reduce it to simple turns.

The way I understand the best communication techniques is that concepts often move from simple to complex and then back to simple. You first make a simple observation, then you go and learn everything you can about that observation, finally you come back and you need to communicate what you learn to the world in a simple way.

Simple → Complex → Simple

Here’s one example.

Why is the sky blue?

I look up today and see the sky is blue. That fact is pretty simple.

Then, I ask myself a series of internal questions. I dive into the complexity of it. What shade of blue? Why is the sky blue? Why does the color change at sunset? Why was the sky grey yesterday? What does the sky look like to someone who is colorblind? I then do a couple google searches, call my friend who is a scientist and learn about the complexity.

The complexity taught me that the sky is blue because the blue wave length from the sun’s light is shorter than the other colors, so it scatters around the earth’s molecules making the sky appear blue. As the sun sets the additional atmosphere, between the sun and the earth, scatters the blue light particles. This allows the other colors like red, orange and pink to reach your eyes.

Finally, I reconstruct what I learned into a new simple thought that holds some of the complexity.

Now reducing it to the simple idea would look something like this: The sky’s color is a dynamic relationship between the sun and earth. And then take it one step further to our every day life — Our perceptions of life are built on dynamic relationships.

Simple (The sky is blue) → Complex (Why is the Sky Blue — physics, wave length and chemistry) → Simple (Perception is built on dynamic relationships)

Reducing something to simple terms means you lose a lot of what’s going on and the different dimensions of what’s in play. But, it also gives you a easily sharable new insight into the world.


A graph is my way of adding a visual aid to this new simple perspective.

Below is a graph of the wavelengths.

Blue has the tallest height (which makes it the shortest wave length in physics terms). This means that it interacts with molecules first and most often and becomes the color of the sky during the day.

Red has the smallest height (which would make physicists call it the longest wave length).

When the sun sets it changes its dynamic with the earth’s atmosphere. This change allows the red light to become visible to create the reds, pinks and oranges of a beautiful sunset.

Using this graph, how else can describe the world around us?

What about the difference between hustle and grace?

Blue has the tallest height. As a freelancer, my days look like hustle — frequent emails, to do lists, errands. A constant go, go, go.

Grace has the smallest height. It’s shows its colors in my life less frequent. It’s not part of my to-do list. It doesn’t earn me money or make me feel accomplished.

There are a few moments each day where my dynamic relationship with the world shifts. The hustle scatters and grace shows up.

What about friendships?

What’s the difference between Instagram likes and unhurried time.

Instagram likes has the tallest height. Thanks to social media I can go months without seeing someone and still know what is going on with their life. I will like all my friends pictures all day long, and someone liking one of my Instagram pictures makes my day. The likes are frequent and cover my whole day.

Unhurried time has the smallest height. Unhurried time with a friend is when you can hang out without an agenda. No one is checking their phone during brunch, or counting down the minutes to the next gathering. You simply are together.

Unhurried happens when I change the dynamics I have with the world. It happens when I make friendships and relationships a priority in my life. It’s less frequent but when it happens it lights up the whole sky.

Alright, that’s enough for today. But, I feel like I’m just getting started.