Do you think it’s simple or complex?

Wow. The amount of time we spend trying to force life into predictable patterns can’t be worth the effort, can it?

I do it. Most of us do it. We’ve learned that the fruit at a particular grocery is usually fresh enough, so we return to that store every week or so to make a purchase. We have friends who never show up for events, so we stop expecting them and eventually stop inviting them. We have favorite authors whose new titles we eagerly anticipate and pre-order online. Simple.

We line up all of our expectations, good and bad, but then some of our careful predictions don’t pan out. Shops go out of business. People experience midlife smackdowns. The idolized bestselling author writes a stinker. We’re forced to reassess, which can be annoying if there isn’t enough spare time to do the necessary search-and-replace. Things keep changing. How are we supposed to keep up? Complex.

When we’re pressed for time is probably when we’re most likely to rely on shortcuts, checklists, or other people’s recommendations. If we’re not also short on money, then it can be tempting to just pay experts to do the job, but that means we need to figure out who the real experts are. Talk about complexity!

Simplifying seems expedient and wise, at first glance, but life doesn’t lend itself to efficiency or streamlining. Real life is messy, business is constantly changing, and people are mercurial. It never gets easier. Well, maybe it gets easier to accept that it’s so hard.

Everybody loves a winner. They say my granny was always more interested in the losers. I’m afraid I inherited her affinity for the underdog. Or maybe I watched this cartoon one too many times when I was a child:

When in this world, the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed,
And rob and steal from those who need,
To right this wrong with blinding speed goes…

I really ought to fight that tendency.

5 Replies to “Do you think it’s simple or complex?”

  1. Wow–Underdog. Had forgotten all about it.

    As for change, I keep in mind the 2 maxims from Heraclitus: the only constant is change itself, and you cannot step into the same river twice–by the time you restep, both you and the river have changed in some way. These thoughts have helped me understand and accept degrees of change, from my favourite cafe closing down to huge organisational upheavals at work.

    Heraclitus also comments positively on change: If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.

  2. You might have thought you’d forgotten Underdog, but I’ll bet he was in your unconscious mind. It’s impossible to resist those childhood influences. :)

    What do you think of Heraclitus’ assertion that “most people live as if they had their own private understanding”? I agree. It’s freaky.

  3. According to Wikipedia Underdog was a druggie: When he is not Underdog, he is incognito as a shoeshine boy. Like Superman, when trouble calls, he hurriedly dresses in a phone booth (which would inexplicably explode upon his conversion). On occasion, in order to replenish his powers, he would take an “Underdog Super Energy Pill”. The “Underdog Super Energy Pill” was first introduced in Episode 10. He keeps one of these pills inside a special ring he wears at all times. (Before taking one, he would often utter the words: “The secret compartment of my ring I fill / With an Underdog super energy pill”.) Several episodes show Underdog losing the ring and being powerless, since he must take another pill as his super powers begin to fail (“Without my Super Energy Pill / I grow weaker and weaker and weaker still”). When the series was syndicated in the 1980s and 1990s, the scenes of him taking his energy pill were edited out. ;-)

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