24 May 2007

But Good Means Being Simple

FK gave a homily awhile back in which he said, "It's simple. We just have to start loving, and stop judging and stop fearing," and I went into his office the next day and kind of blurted out, "Simple, my ass..."

This was part of an email conversation with my sister yesterday. What makes this particularly resonant, as well as somewhat amusing, is that my sister is a novitiate. This fall, she will enter a convent in Chicago and, if all goes well, in two years she will become a full-fledged nun. (Whether she will have to give up archaeology and watching CSI remains to be seen.)

Simple, unfortunately, does not equal easy. It takes a lot of work to be simple. Being simple is hard. It seems to be programmed into some part of our human software to try to complicate things as much as possible. Give us a chance, and we'll mangle things up beyond belief. Give us a foot of rope and not only will we hang ourselves with it, we'll construct elaborate birds' nests and macrame designs and unnecessary detours, plus tie the cat's feet together by mistake.

You've probably heard the phrase "It's as simple as falling off a log." Okay. Fine. Have you ever tried to fall off a log? Probably not. Probably those times you fell off the log and ended up in the drink were precisely those times you were paying least attention to your log-crossing duties, or you were paying too much attention to it because it was imperative that your shoes stayed dry. As a rule, people don't fall off logs on purpose. Because that involves losing control. On purpose.

Excuse you?

No thanks, I'd rather stay here on this nice, dry, cozy log, thank you. This nice, pleasant, barky log straddling the creek, that is neither here nor there, neither one side nor the other, and certainly not getting my feet wet and jumping into the creek. Are you kidding? What? Me, jump?

Like most people, I'm a little bit of a control freak. I like my comfort zone. It's...well, comfortable. The more complicated something is, the more chances I have to grasp at things and pretend I'm controlling them. I'm one of those people who works better when I'm multitasking. In fact, I find it nearly impossible to uni-task. See? It's not even a word, because nobody does it. When I have eighty finals to grade, and my car payment is due, and the sump-pump is on the fritz so there's a half-inch of water in the basement, I'm good to go.

But god forbid I have a day where I only have to do one thing, and do it well. Here's a day on your calendar: plunk. Say, next Thursday. You have nothing to do that day. All your commitments have been erased. Your calendar has been cleared. All you have to do is......(fill in the blank. Write. Paint. Relax. Whatever.)

Complete terror. We freeze. Why? Because it's simple. And we've forgotten how to do simple. We have gadgets for everything, we have cars we don't know how to fix, sump-pumps that explode, computers and TVs to entertain us, electronic gizmos galore. When was the last time you spent an entire afternoon gazing at a bug? Or watching a flower open for the day? Or listening to the river go by between your toes?

That's not a judgment. It can't be. I'm not outside either, or you wouldn't be reading this.

My assignment to myself: to find simple things.

11 comments:

deirdre said...

"we'll construct elaborate birds' nests and macrame designs and unnecessary detours, plus tie the cat's feet together by mistake" - You have no idea how well I know this statement. It's amazing how quickly we can complicate things.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I can recognise so much truth in this post. Yesterday, my partner and I spent an hour or so in the Botanic Gardens, watchign the squirrels and looking at the flowers. Too cold to spend hours watching a bug though....

gautami tripathy said...

Much to think about in this post. In this rat race we forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

khambagirl said...

Well said! You have a way of giving good examples to make your point. Thank you!

Inconsequential said...

i was outside this morning.
it started to drizzle.

i cant enjoy nature wet...

so its back to the computers...

Kamsin said...

Great post! I'm trying to convince myself spending an afternoon blog surfing is a simple way to spend the day. Anyway, I guess there's a need to find some sort of balance between necessary business and taking time to "stop and stare" as some poet I can't remember, put it.

sister AE said...

just, "yes."

Patois said...

I, too, love your words regarding what we'll do with a foot of rope. So true for many. Simplify my life? I'd like to say I'd love to, but I don't think that's really true.

Becca said...

I do think we've forgotten how to simplify (that is if we ever knew).
I seem to run at full tilt all the time, and though I say I crave simplicity, I'm not sure I'd know what to do with it!

Great post!

sundaycynce said...

I SO identify with what you have said especially the control freak, multi-tasking paragraph. When there are always dozens of papers to grade, you have to do the other stuff too, cuz life is complex and it must go on. I had such a hard time with this post.

Enjoyed this read!

boliyou said...

From one control freak to another - great post!