We work with approximations. Everything we do in our lives is based on an approximation of some sorts. We approximate the weather (hence, how we will dress for the day), we approximate the time needed to arrive at a certain place, we approximate the answers we get in a conversation and so on and so forth. Our life is not an exact science, as much as we would like to believe it is.
In this process of making sense of our world, we swing between two extreme approaches: oversimplification and unnecessary complexity.
Optimism, Pessimism and Oversimplification
The more we simplify, the easier is to become an optimist or a pessimist. Both are seeing the world from a very clear standpoint. It’s gonna be either very good, or very bad. In reality, it’s seldom “very’ good or “very” bad. Most of the time it’s something in between. But our need for certainty and clarity makes us perceive the world through a coarser filter, which allows only one type of outcome at a time.
Oversimplification takes out the inherent unpredictability of life. Instead, it tries to replace it with a simple (sic!) and predictable causality, which, alas, never works. People with a lot of certainties are quite annoying, aren’t they?
Anxiety, Exhilaration and Unnecessary Complexity
The more we split an experience into smaller and smaller parts, the more we feed anxiety or exhilaration. Both are reactions to a reality perceived as overwhelming, to a world so intricate, so hard to understand in all its billions of details that we can only surrender to it (exhilaration) or be forever afraid of it (anxiety). Our need for understanding pushes to take into account things that aren’t really part of the experience, blurring our life lenses to the point they become useless.
Unnecessary complexity, or making something bigger than it is, takes out the spontaneity of life. It replaces it with a complex (sic!) and difficult to understand mechanism, which, alas, is beyond our comprehension. People who never act, “because life it’s so complicated, anyway”, are a bit unnerving, don’t you think?
The Tender Place In Between
There is a certain place where none of these approaches is prevalent. A place where things can be simplified, but not too much, where all the details can be unveiled and understood, without becoming overwhelming, a place where no one is either optimist or pessimist, and there’s no anxiety or exhilaration.
Some spiritual schools are calling this “your center”.
I call it “just be there”. Just observe, experience, assess, decide and do however you see fit in the present moment.
The problem is you can’t just “be there” all the time. Because you have thoughts running around, emotions taking over and unpredictable life situations that you have to manage all the time.
In an ideal world, “just be there” would be easy. We don’t live in an ideal world. So all we can do is try.
Sometimes we get better at it, but sometimes we fail. We get carried away by our extreme views, by our expectations and overreactions.
And when this is happening, we have only one thing left to do: start over. Try again. Aim for that tender place again and again, until we get there. All other places are just delusions, anyway.