Expressing the essence with less
The objective of Sumi-e is not to recreate the subject to look perfectly like the original, but to capture its essence — that is, to express its essence. This is achieved not with more but with less. Therefore, useless details are omitted and every brush stroke contains meaning and purpose. The minimum amount of strokes or lines are used to convey meaning. Each brush stroke is meaningful and has a purpose. There is no dabbling or going back to make corrections. The ink is indelible and you have one chance to get it right. The strokes themselves, then, are said to serve as a good metaphor for life itself. That is, there is no moment except for this moment. You can't go back, there is only now.
Sumi-e is another example of an art that embodies the very essence of simplicity and yet is in practice complex and takes a lifetime to master. This aspect of the art of Sumi-e too is a metaphor for life: One never truly masters the art of life or achieves perfection.
The pursuit of perfection is the journey, and the journey is what it's all about.