Thursday, July 5, 2012

The other side of complexity.

**Warning: Rambling ahead. Read at your own risk.**

“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, 
I wouldn't give you a fig. 
But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, 
for that I would give you anything I have.” 

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

This quote is in my head right now. I think of it often and felt the need to share it with you. 

 It applies to so many things.  Personal lives, professional lives. . . even sweeping social and political changes. At some point, we have to accept that the only way to get to the simplicity on the other side of the complexity is to deal with the hard parts. The yucky parts.

When I reflect on those words, I recognize that oft times what we we think is "simplicity" on one side isn't simplicity at all. Instead it's stagnancy. It's fear. It's this false safety in what is known. Even if what is known isn't so good.

I call that "pseudo-simplicity."

There are some people I care for deeply who are dealing with affairs of the heart. Paradigm shifts that they didn't sign up for that will require them to armor up and run full speed into that complexity if they want to truly be happy again. But the problem is . . . there's that pesky unknown; it's hard to know exactly what the simplicity is on the other side. 

 Is it simply peace?
And if it is, what will bring that?
Is it a full reconciliation?
Is it a complete redefinition of life as you knew it with someone? 
Is it instead redefining who you are?
Or is that the reason this happened in the first place?


And see, all these questions suck for me as the friend listening because I don't know the answers. At all. All I know is that I don't like seeing people I care for with their waters being troubled. All I know is that I don't like passing tissues over the table to catch tears. 

Other than that, I don't know much of anything really. That is when it comes to helping to support someone as they step into the tornado of complexity. And vice versa.

So I've started saying one of the few things that can be agreed upon in such times. 

Which is:

"Man. This sucks."

Because sometimes when someone is on the edge of that complexity or just too scared to step all the way into it, that's all they have it in themselves to hear from you. 

At least I think so.

On the bright side, I know some people who have been pushing through some complexity and who are getting closer and closer to that simplicity on the other side. Like Mark and Fred who are an amazing same-sex couple who are as entrenched in their every day life of kids and houses and friends as any other couple I know. Except for several years, they've had to fight to stay together because Fred is a French national and not an American one. 

Which reminds me: Mark says Fred "had him at allo.

 Ha. (Yes, Mark, I read that somewhere on your blog.)

Anyways. My point in mentioning them is that Mark and Fred have been super brave about living their simple lives in the eye of the complexity of a real, true threat of Fred having to leave. Leave the country. The country where they've built a life together with their four spectacular children and their lovely home. 

And maybe I have oversimplified this and if I have I apologize. But I guess I thought about Mark and Fred because I see a lesson in their lives. Mark's blog is called "Our Simple Lives" -- which is technically how I "know" him -- but we're a community here and I think the stories and photos Mark shares there illustrate how beautifully one can enjoy the simple celebrations of life inside of that swirling storm of complexity.  And. Since we are a community of believers of all sorts of things, I know that every person reading this may feel something different. But I think we can all agree that loving and cherishing children and each other and making sure that safe and loving families exist are good things.

We can agree on that, can't we?

I'm just thinking. You know? They could have just hidden it all from the world. Huddled down in that pseudo-simplicity of shadows without the judgment or the difficulty of fighting to just be who they are. But, see, just knowing that on the other side of the complexity of all of that lies something greater? Man. It's worth it.

Not easy. But worth it.

No matter what you believe.

And, see the tricky thing is that you don't even know for sure if you'll win. You don't. But you try. You have to if you want to be happy.

Mark and Fred's story also teaches me that sometimes as the listening ear that's being supportive, sometimes you have to say more than just "Man. This sucks." Even if it gets kind of complex when you do.

Sigh. I'm rambling, ha ha ha. . . I know.

I guess I think that quote just sums up so much of life. All of the things I try to do. All of the things I want to do. Every moment that I step off of the shore of my comfort zone and wade into a zone of development, I see it. The other side. And sometimes the simplicity on the other side is just feeling proud of myself for trying. Or proud of myself for loving and believing in me enough to go for it thinking I could and succeeding.


So I guess I just wanted to give this idea to you to chew on, too. To get you to explore the pseudo-simplicities that are holding you back from the authentic simplicity that awaits you on the other side of the complexity before you. 

And for you, I don't know what that is. 

But you do.

Happy Day-After-Firecracker Day.


"You know the day destroys the night 
Night divides the day 
Tried to run 
Tried to hide 
Break on through to the other side 
Break on through to the other side . . ."

~ The Doors

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . Mr. Jim Morrison pushes you into the complexities to get to the other side. (Ignore the fact that he was high -- this is good music, people.)


  1. I just put Mark's blog in my reader a few days ago. Why I hadn't done this before is beyond me. I was only vaguely aware of him and although I adored what I'd read, I had so many blogs on m reader and, and, and.
    And yesterday, for some reason, I just deleted some of those blogs. Blogs of people I don't really care to read that much, but have for so long due to a sense of...what? I don't even know.
    Such bullshit!
    And I added Mark's. So.

    Now- as to what is simplicity and what is simply fear of the unknown? Or, whatever? I don't know. It's like denial and acceptance- how can you truly know you are in one or the other?

    Ah, love. You ask the good questions.

    1. Thanks for getting this and getting me. Mark's blog is awesome and so is he. I am always in awe of how you manage to keep up with so many blogs. I often feel bad for getting behind on some of my favorites. But I guess catching up is delicious and fun, too. At least, that's what I tell myself.

      Yes. These are great questions. Heavy sometimes but good ones and necessary ones don't you think?

  2. I am dealing with some of that complexity myself these days. Married 37 yrs ago today and my husband is not living with me. Going to counseling, thinking, reflecting and crying a lot. Don't know how it will turn out but I continue to hope for the best. Oh and we had to put our 15 yr old cocker spaniel to sleep today, so yeah. It sucks. Thanks for listening.

    1. I'm sorry, Mary Alice. Holding your hand today.

  3. Wow! You're "killing me softly" with your words.
    I was going to write that I'm at a loss for words but we all know that that's not true. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift. And you went way beyond saying something like the kids are cute or I am funny(which I am,right?) but you actually "got" to the very center of my blog. I've written before that I call my blog "our simple lives" as a joke because our lives are not that at all. And furthermore, I want to show people that although your life can be complicated, there are still fantastic things about it and you can still laugh.
    Since you are new to reading my blog, and I really haven't written about our Immigration story in months, I'm amazed that you even found it.
    And then of course Ms. Moon finding me through Angella's site the other day which was a nice little treat.
    I really do feel that, despite our uphill climb, we truly are blessed. We are healthy and together and that is really all that we need.
    Fred and I have been together for over 22 years now. Sometimes I feel guilty that he is with me since he gave up his education and major career for me and then didn't work for years when working is his true passion. At the same time, he's been there for the kids all these years. So see, it all worked out.
    Okay, now I'm rambling. But I thank you so much for looking beyond my site's photos and actually reading my words. What a compliment!
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. How will I ever repay you?

    1. No repayment needed. Just keep sharing your beautiful truth--that is the best gift ever. By the way, I was looking at your archives and ran across a video of Claire reading. OMG. Cutest thing ever. Ever, ever, ever. The "I like myself" book. Seriously? You must keep that video forever. What a powerful message for a kid to have!!

      Aren't you proud of me finding "You had me at allo?" Ha ha ha ha


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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