Explain something to me. Why do people use the adjective “simple” to describe anything? I’m tired of being told, being taught, being trained to expect simple. “It’s simple, you just. . .” or “It’s not complicated, honey, it’s very simple.” or “Life is simple,” “love is simple,” “it’s all just simple, when you think about it!” What is, exactly? I’m finding that simple. It’s just not a thing.
I think it’s past time to correct our expectations. Of everything. The mantra of “it’s not fair” is good, but I’d like to start with the positive, with what it IS, so I know, so my kids know.
It’s complicated. It’s all complicated. Struggles, decisions, choices, forks in the road. Who we marry, who we leave, why we stay, why we go. Why we try again, and, frankly, why we don’t.
I think it’s why I’ve always had a hard time with the “cocktail conversation.” And I like conversations. I really like to talk. And I really like people and their stories and lives and families. But I hate the cocktail/Target/coffee shop encounter. Because it’s not genuine. It’s trying desperately to simplify something that’s complicated.
“Oh, hi! Oh my gosh. It is SO GOOD to see you! How ARE you?”
They don’t mean it. They don’t really want to know. I mean, how would I begin to answer that?
“Hi, ‘friend’ whose last name I honestly can’t remember. I haven’t seen or talked to or heard from or texted in 4 weeks/3 months/2 years/1 decade. I guess it’s good to see you? But I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t seen you. Honestly. And I don’t think you would have cared or noticed if you hadn’t seen me. And that’s totally okay! And how am I? Actually, it’s so good you asked. I feel like Meghan Markle, and I’ve just been DYING for someone to ask me! I am not doing that well, really. It’s so involved, you know? My kids, my husband, my LIFE, I just need to tell you all about it, right here in the aisle, and explain to you how messy I actually am. All the time, every day, even though I put off a great front that I am GREAT.”
Yeah no. You just say “Hey, oh my gosh! It’s so good to see you, TOO! And we are JUST FINE. SO good, actually. How are Y’ALL?”
What about our very important and current conversation regarding “essential.” I don’t mean the oils, I mean real people, real businesses, real livelihoods. Is it simple to define and understand what “essential” means, and how it applies to our complicated nation and its economy? No way. Yet, it has to be treated as straight forward, or everything is up for discussion and nothing is clear.
But. It’s actually not straight forward, and it’s not simple. It’s relative, messy and very painful. What is essential to your community, who is essential to your life – it’s dependent, isn’t it, on where you live, what you need and how you pay your bills. And as Americans, we’re accustomed to being able to decide these priorities, these choices, these definitions, as individuals, not as states or even a nation.
As I continue to wear the very prominent and heavy Teacher Hat, I am reminded constantly of how I am guiding my children. How my language and little “teachable moments” might actually affect them forever. Lord. And how I’m training them in behavior, habits, life skills, and yes, expectations. I’d like to stop making them think that Life is Clean, Life is Straightforward, Life is Predictable. Without knowing it, we all do it. With our words and our stories, our guidelines for life, we paint a picture for them that is dependable and sturdy and understandable. I don’t know how we started doing this, when in fact we all know better. We’ve all lived better!
But what I do know is that this house is going to embrace its complicated, gray-not-black-or-white reality and hope that in changing their hearts, I change mine as well.
It’s not bad to be not-simple. It’s just time we were proud of it.
“It’s all messy. The hair. The bed. The words. The heart. Life.” — William Leal