Dozens of cell phone services. Hundreds of TV channels. Thousands of products. Millions of opinions. Life today is as complex as the Internal Revenue Service tax code. And tomorrow promises to make today look like child’s play. Don’t you just want to grab your sleeping bag and escape to the hills?
We’re way past information overload. It’s no wonder Attention Deficit Disorder is one of the most diagnosed psychological disorders among children, affecting up to 1 in 10 in this age group and up to 6% of adults. That’s around 330 million people who have difficulty with concentration and focus, short term memory slippage, procrastination, problems organizing ideas and belongings, tardiness, and impulsivity. And those are just the diagnosed cases. Maybe you’ve felt distracted by these symptoms too.
ADD is a pretty recent phenomenon that began making medical headlines around 60 years ago. Right about the time television was becoming an instant news tool through the use of satellite communications. Computers were making their way into businesses and homes and leaving the computational speed of the human mind in the dust.
Today, we’re a channel-surfing, multi-tasking, sound-bite, instant-gratification society that can’t sit still long enough to read an entire book or have a conversation of more than a few minutes. The unprecedented opportunities and endless personal choices have left us dizzy and confused, yet addicted to the chaotic buzz.
Previous generations used to say, “Remember the simpler days?” I’m not sure there are many in those generations left. Most of us can’t remember days any less complex than we live now.
“Stop the world, I want to get off!”
Peace. It’s not found in the complexity. Truth. It’s not there in the endless chatter. What we seek – what we need – is simplicity. As the world generates more and more of more and more, we will only find our peace and truth in simplifying our thoughts and needs and desires.
For our variety-intoxicated minds this might seem like a loss. And, in a way, it is. But, what is lost is not important. What remains is clear and fundamental and significant. After all, what good is great variety if you can find nothing of value in it?
Try breaking your addiction to chaos. It only takes a shift in perception. When you feel overwhelmed with options and choice, pull your mind away from what lies before you and ask yourself, “What choice would bring me greatest joy? What is fundamentally real here? What is the truth of this?”
I had a friend recently talk to me about how she and her husband like to travel. He wants to see it all and do it all and move from place to place quickly. She wants to stop in one place and experience it in depth. He likes variety and she likes connection. He wants to lose himself in the experience of what’s out there and she wants to experience herself in the context of what’s out there. Quantity or quality. What remains when they’ve each finished their journeying?
How deeply do you wish to live? Are you after a closet bulging with clothes you never wear or a few favorites you enjoy over and over? Do you want dozens of casual friends or one or two lifetime intimates you share your soul with?
Simplicity. Give it a try. Be the anchor in the sea of chaos. Choose wisely. Live deeply, not in shallow breaths. Know what brings you deep satisfaction. Hint: it’s not that new pair of shoes, car, house, computer! What brings a deep, unbidden, breath to your lungs? What makes you un-tense without even trying? What brings a smile to your lips before you even realize it’s there? What makes time stand still?
For me, I cuddle my cat, I close my eyes and listen to the breeze stirring the leaves of the Aspen, I fill up with the warmth of the setting sun, I breathe into my heart. After each of these moments, I feel I can do anything – that’s when I turn my attention to what I most want. Simple. Clean. Uncomplicated.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” —Hans Hofmann“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” —E. F. Schumacker