Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We love our Complexity!

I've been a little bit obsessed (mentally at least) with fighting complexity lately. I just look around everywhere I go - home, church, work . . . etc. - and I see things that people have done, however well-meaning, that have created huge complexity. Seems we're all kinda slaves to the complexities we've added to our lives. Again, it's not that we have some sort of sinister motives, we usually are just trying to do more good things: more meetings about helping people, more programs we can implement that'll be even bigger & better than the last ones, more projects that'll improve our homes, more activities for the kids, more products and services to sell, more visits to people, more trips, more complicated investments, more messages (e-mails, texts, IMs, calls) to friends, more great TV shows, more news to pay attention to, more hours worked so we can get more money . . . etc. You get my point.

Everything I mentioned there is a wonderful thing, usually, but I'm more and more convinced that many of us are becoming so successful at complicating our lives that we'll never do anything well and we become like the Thoreau quote - "living lives of quiet desperation." I'm as guilty as everyone else in this area. And I guess "guilty" is part of the thing here. When were don't do something that seems (in isolation) like a good thing to do, we end up with that happy guilt feeling. I'm reminded of the talk in the Fall '07 General Conference by Elder Oaks. We need to somehow prioritize and DESELECT. That guilt thing keeps us from feeling right about doing that. And it's too bad. In the end we are successfully scatterbrained doing a lot of great things not very well.
We'll never get to it all . . . never. I remember folks I met in Venezuela that lived in little huts with dirt floors and where 7 people slept, ate, and did everything else in one little, stuffy, room. Some of these folks were significantly happier than many people I know. So how is that possible?! I think simplicity had something to do with that. They had the people in their lives and not a lot else. I'm certainly not advocating austerity or anything, not at all. Still I think there's something to be learned there. So - for those of you still reading along, let me ask you - does any of this make any sense, sound familiar, sound crazy? What suggestions do you have? Leave a comment.
As for me, I'll try hard to keep things just a little more simple - wish me luck!


rlsecor said...

Ugh I so hear you! My number one rule of parenting is be Flexible! Every time we stop being flexible and try to do more than we should, we pay for it in tears and grumpy kids. When I was the activities committee chair in KC - our bishop would counsel us often on keeping things simple. Truly, simplicity is not in my nature. I am verbose, I love color, my imagination runs rampant when I get to plan anything! BUT, I listened, anyway, and I came to understand. Now, years later, when I hear someone trying to make things complicated I get really frustrated - don't they know. Even our house is a good example. Our big house now is nice to have room for company and for the kids to run around but I so miss the simplicity of our life in our cozy little house in Kansas. We could always find things, we could hear the kids when they cried, I could clean the whole house all in the same week! Hey, I'll quit now. I guess I need to write my own blog post about this.

agm said...

that was a really interesting post. i have to say, that work is not my priority. i knew going into law school that i didn't want to work an 80 hour week to make a gazillion dollars and partner in 7 years. that being said, my job is super boring, but i work hard & try to do a good job at it when i am at work. but as soon as i'm done- that's it & i try not to think about it. the trade off is that my job is boring & i could make more money doing something else, but to me the quality of life is more important. i can work from home & pretty much take off when i want. that being said, i have to say that i'm lucky enough to have found a job like that & that i can afford to do that - the only hungry mouths i have to feed are my own & my lazy cats'. other people aren't as lucky. i do feel guilty at times, but other things are much more important to me. like getting tivo this week & figuring out how to simplify my tv watching. ;-)

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