Sunday, March 29, 2009


sim-plic-i-ty -noun: freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts.

Here's how my mind works: I see the word and definition above and I think, "Ok, but 'complexity, intricacy, or division into parts' of what? In what way?" You see, there's always more to see, more to define, more to understand, even to better understand what "simplicity" is.

I've spent much of my life thinking about how great it would be to live more simply. But, without even realizing it, I had fallen into that trap of believing that if I just had one more thing, one more year, then I'd finally be able to simplify for real. I adore the romanticized idea of living simply in the country - even more in the country than where I grew up - I'm talking up in the mountains or something, far away from anything, even far away from the basic technologies that I grew up with (which would be laughable from the perspectives I've surrounded myself with lately - living in one of the largest cities in the world, with more technology at my fingertips than I usually know what to do with...literally). And yet, I rationalize: I would probably need some kind of satellite connection so that I could stay apprised of worldwide news and keep in touch with my family; I'd also need a whole new skill set - I'm not too handy in the wilderness, though I'd love to be; I'd also need to have enough cash to sustain myself, right? These needs surely aren't too great, just enough to get by and stay in touch - at least when and how I want to be.

So now we're back to the earlier questions - simplicity in what way? Is it simpler to live away from society and rely on only oneself and one's environment? Is simplicity the smartphone I've got on my desk? It allows me to place calls, check emails, surf the web, send text messages, record "video," take pictures, plan my calendar, and play games - and it fits in my palm! But when I think of simplicity, surely a device like this is nowhere to be found. Indeed, I love the idea of sitting down and hand-writing letters to friends and family. But I seem unable to deny the simplicity of simply sending an email instead.

Inadvertently, I stumble upon the realization that simplicity may in fact be an ideal that exists only in my head. If the very notion becomes an unending trail of question and confusion, requiring thoughful answer after thoughtful answer, is this not the very nature of complexity? And finally, I find myself in a familiar state of awe, once again bowing before the simple complexity of a creative God, who in wisdom unimaginable bestows upon himself the simple and paradoxical name YHWH - I am that I am. And I pray for understanding, even of the most simple.

1 comment:

angiejean said...

Certainly I too find myself ensnared in a cycle of purchases that will help to make my life more simple, but of course end up cluttering my already small house leaving me with a circumstance far from simple. But I have to agree that technology DOES simplify our lives to some degree.

This issue is really about our focus, not the things in front of us. The people I think of, friends and family, who I might consider to have grasped "simplicity" more than I, have not done away with technology or clutter. Moreover, the people who have to leave civilization to find simplicity in their lives seem to have complicated the issue as well. It's about focus, daily and where I am, in the big picture.

If you're talking about having less stuff, your talking about minimalism. (But for a shopper, that just doesn't sound like much fun.:) If you're talking about "going green," your life will not take on less THINGS. If you're talking about life, God only gives us one command: Love Me; Love your neighbor.

We can complicate it. Or we can just take a deep breath, and live.