As my last post reveals, I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity lately, and how it’s been one of my longest-standing goals.
That’s right, it’s not just an idea for me, it’s a goal. Because my Inner Control Freak can’t just appreciate something without trying to own it somehow.
I try reasoning with her about this to no avail. She leads me over and over again to the same conclusion.
The fact that my life isn’t as simple as I’d like really stresses me out.
(Actually, what I initially wrote was, “I allow the fact that my life isn’t as simple as I’d like to stress me out. But what if—radical thought!—I just accepted this as the way I am right now? Not that I want to stay this way, mind you. But can this mental/emotional pattern be something I don’t judge myself for while I’m working on it?)
Anyway, as usual, my feelings of stress come from comparing the What-Is to the What-I-Want.
You see, in my mind, I have this image of how organized and uncluttered I want my life to feel. My home is comfortably lived in, but neat, and I can find whatever I need in seconds because I know exactly where it is.
Oh, yes! And (the fantasy continues) I’m also tracking all my commitments and things I want to do so that nothing ever slips through the cracks. I have time for everything. (Possibly the biggest fantasy of all.) I’m responsible, trustworthy, and stress-free.
And someday—maybe even this weekend, if I try hard enough!—I will finish everything on my to-do list.
The Empty Inbox Fantasy is a lie. I know that logically, dammit. But my Inner Control Freak wants so badly to believe it’s possible, she is willing to live in perpetual denial.
But externalizing her like that is misleading. I know she is really me. And I hate the fact that I can’t accept the world in all its entropic glory.
I’m trying to make peace with the fact that life is complex and messy.
Most days I’m failing. But every time I manage to relax into the knowledge, even for a moment, that the world isn’t neat and orderly and controllable and that’s okay . . . I’ve won a small victory. Maybe nudged a neuron or two into a more peaceful and accepting brain pathway.
Allison Nazarian wrote a fantastic post about this a few days ago, in which she oh-so-correctly observes that simplicity is hard work. I adore her idea that maybe “stew is the new simple.” Go read her post when you’re done here, because she conveys her ideas so beautifully, but here’s the heart of it for me:
Maybe simple is the big, juicy, colorful, sometimes-spicy, never-bland, gloppy and, yes, complicated stew that is my life. . . . Maybe the stew has so much potential for such deliciousness that it—not simple—is actually what I crave.
I am gradually (kicking and screaming all the while) coming to this conclusion, too. Because as much as I want the peace and calm that come from simplicity, when I manage to step out of judgment mode and simply see the world in all its suchness, I see that it is a very, very rich place.
Here’s another thought. Maybe being uncomfortable is simply being uncomfortable. Maybe it doesn’t necessarily mean my world is spinning out of control.
There is a dynamic tension between my wish for simplicity and my acceptance of complexity. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
What if the connecting word between simplicity and “suchness” (everything in the world being exactly what it is, and no more) is not OR, but AND?
What if I could accept the fact that I will stress over my life’s complexity, and that I also will find much wonderfulness there to revel in?
Can I allow for that? I don’t know—I’m still working on it. I’ll keep you posted.