When Did Simple Become So Complicated?

Allison Nazarian Real Life, The Life of Allison

This is going to be short and sweet.

Simple.

Because simple is good — supposedly.

Uncomplicated — supposedly.

Right?

Simple is, well, simple.

Yet, for me at least, simple seems to take thought and planning and forethought and has pre-requisites and requirements. And, thus, simple becomes, well, complicated.

I say “for me” because there are people who seem to be able to – effortlessly, flawlessly, consistently – keep it simple. Maybe they meditate regularly. They eat well. They get enough rest. They have no unexpected zits and their clothes always fit. They don’t have gray roots.

Or, maybe it is just their energy and pace – calm, never frenzied. They have zits and roots, but they just accept them and move on. These are usually also people whose put thought and time and energy only into things that match their clear and, yes, simple, focus.

Simple.

My life is no more or less complicated than the next girl’s (or guy’s): Kids, friends, love, house, career, errands, bills, goals, dreams, good habits, bad habits, lists – stuff.  It’s all there. It’s both simple and complicated.  It just is.

Of course, I’ve done lots of work to simplify. (Sounds like an oxymoron, though – shouldn’t simple be the default? Working to simplify? Isn’t that defeating the whole simple purpose?).

But I have: I watch very little TV. I don’t follow the news anymore. I do my best to read and learn daily. I cut out unnecessary business and personal expenses – things I don’t use, things I forgot I was even paying for, things that don’t make things easier or better.

I’ve cleared lots of space in my life, both literally and figuratively. I’m getting good at evaluating how I spend my time and determining whether what I am doing or thinking is in direct accordance with something that is one of my core values or priorities – and if it is not, I do what I can to 86 it.

And, yet, even as in some (maybe many) ways I feel I am approaching simple, I must tell you these things: Simple takes work. Simple takes time. Simple doesn’t seem to just “happen” or materialize. (And if it is supposed to, clearly I have no concept of how to get to simple.)

And, because (at least for me), simple means planning and thinking and questioning, simple is more of a constant quest than a zen destination I will eventually arrive and stay at.

You know what? Sometimes, simple isn’t so friggin simple.

Some days, I more-than-half-expect simple to just happen. Other days, I know and see that part of my lesson is that simple already exists. There are fleeting moments of simple and they are, well, simple. And divine. And lovely. But they certainly don’t happen while I am running around or being busy or doing all sorts of stuff. They happen during quiet moments of thought or pleasure.

I don’t know when simple became so complicated. Clearly it happened somewhere after kickball games outside, no Internet, the 80s, the Ice Cream Man and pay phones.

Maybe what’s complicating things is the need, the desire and the quest for simple.
Maybe that’s the “trick” or the answer – stop trying and thinking and just allow simple to happen on its own. Organically. Genuinely. Easily.

I’m realistic though: I’m a girl. I’m INFJ. I come from a long line of neurotic, brilliant Jewish women. I’m a Gemini. Make that a double Gemini. A bunch of strikes against simple already.

Doesn’t mean I will stop trying. Or maybe I will stop trying and allow simple to find me and catch up. Or maybe I will shut up long enough (unlikely) to see simple has been here all along, right by my side, just ready and waiting for me to take notice.

Either way, as I continue to make room for simple (or notice the room it is already occupying), I will also remind myself to love all that is multi-faceted, and unique and decidedly-not-simple about me and about my life. I will embrace the complicated parts — the ones that make life fun, the ones that make me laugh or teach me something, the ones that are decidedly not simple.

And then, maybe I will see this:
Maybe simple is the big, juicy, colorful, sometimes-spicy, never-bland, gloppy and, yes, complicated stew that is my life.

Maybe, just maybe, without the stew, simple would not mean zen and calm.

Maybe without the stew, simple would be boring and limited and ho-hum and safe.

Maybe the stew has so much potential for such deliciousness that it – not simple — is actually what I crave.

Maybe simple is an excuse and I already have all of the tastes, sounds, smells, thoughts, tools and, yes, stuff I already need to have, feel, be and do whatever I want, be it simple or complicated or “stew.”

And maybe, then, “stew” is the new simple. Resisting it, questioning it, being suspicious of it – that’s what complicates the beautifully not-so-simple.

Maybe, ultimately, I will make my own simple, appreciate it for what it is (and isn’t), add salt, take out vegetables, use a new bowl  — whatever it takes for me to sink my teeth into it and just claim it.

Simple.