“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” – (Longfellow). Also seen recently in an ad – “Complexity breeds confusion; while simplicity leads to contentment”
I like simplicity, especially when the alternative is needless complexity. Many times in life simplicity equates to transparency. There is nothing complex or confusing about being honest, open and transparent in how you deal with others. Maybe you’ve met some people for whom life seems to be a big drama, with secrets, innuendos, conspiracies and double meanings read into everything that goes on in their life. If you say to them, “Hi, how are you doing?” they are just as like to come back with. “Why, what have you heard about me?” For those people there is no simplicity in life and no contentment; everyone is someone to be mistrusted or someone who is somehow out to do them harm. What a pity.
People who try to live simple lives usually have less stuff surrounding them than most others. They do not judge themselves by what possessions they have accumulated. It does not take these people hours to load up the car for a day at the park; they just get out the bike or throw on their hiking boots and off they go; or perhaps they throw a kayak on the roof of their car and head to the lake or river. People living simple lives seldom do so in ornate McManions, in fact an entire industry has grown up around then tiny houses that many of these people love. On weekends they would rather tent camp than spend hours getting the RV ready. For these people, a simple bowl of popcorn while watching a movie on TV with the family is preferable to spending $50-60 to go to the movies. Many of them also would prefer an old fashion board game to a video game any day.
Choosing to live a simple life does not mean that one is a simple person; in fact it may mean just the opposite. It actually takes quite a bit of intelligence and sophistication to appreciate many of life’s most simple and beautiful things. Perhaps that is a level that I fall short of because there are simple works of art that escape me completely, like the red dot series of paintings; however, I could sit for quite some time admiring some of the simpler works of the great masters of art or the way that the more modern Impressionists boiled down complex scenes into their essence of colors and shapes.
In their human relationships, people who embrace the simple life don’t have time for coyness, pettiness or deception. They will move on to someone else if that’s how you come across. Your act is one of complexity and confusion and that has no place in their lives. It is just so much easier to be open and honest, trusting and loving than it is to waste lots of energy conniving or plotting. I suspect that at the root of that behavior is someone who hasn’t learned to like or love themselves and so they are yet incapable of truly liking or loving others. The plots that they see everywhere and from everyone are self-destructive delusions that provide them with a substitute for actually living life as it is. In order to live in those delusions they create a persona to show the world – maybe it’s the brash, loud person at the bar or the social butterfly at the party, who seems to be talking to everyone and no one at the same time. How much better to live by just saying “here I am, take me as you see me, because that’s all there is.” Presenting yourself at face value will make it easier for you to accept others that way, too.
So, give the simple life a try. Maybe you’ll like it. You don’t have to give up everything that you already have; however, I think you’ll quickly start to ask yourself why you have all of those things that you hardly ever use. Rather, living the simple life means not seeing or creating complexity in the decisions of your everyday life. It may mean not buying more stuff or maybe just different stuff that you can use in your new, simpler pursuit of happiness in the little things in life. In your relationships it may mean stopping and taking the time to say “I love you” every day. To paraphrase and extend an old saying, it may mean stopping to smell, see, touch and appreciate the roses along the way – a simple thing, really, but incredibly powerful if you can get there.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go stare at that red dot some more and see if I can figure it out…it’s got to be a plot somehow.