The Art of Simplicity



The burrow is the domain of creatures less able, or perhaps less willing to contend with the kinds of adversity that exist in the full light of day. It’s eyes become tuned to the blacks and grays of the shadows. It scurries out in reluctant circles to find food, doing only what is needed to satisfy the drives that compel it to act, all the while terrified it might become food itself. In this world, devoid of colors by way of the limited perspective through which reality is rendered in the dark, it carves out an existence beneath the threshold of possibility, in a cocoon of safety spun with fear. These creatures of the burrowed dark have, in effect, determined that the cost of contention with a full spectrum world is too high – or perhaps too frightening. Either way, it trades vision for safety, and in so doing sacrifices possibility on the altar of fear.

Each choice presented by nature is bloody – every proposition comes with benefit and sacrificial costs. We can sacrifice any hope progress by not taking the risks to brave the light of day. We can gain safety at the expense a fuller embrace of reality. We can form a prison of stagnation that returns a kind of clarity that only darkness can bring; not a clarity that forges an accurate view of the world, but a false certainty forged by a restricted field of vision.

In the shadows of a narrow mind peering through a simplistic lens we can gain a clear vision of things like right and wrong, not because we see an accurate representation of what is, but because the limited range of gray on black we paint our world with generates an illusion of clarity from a fraction of an otherwise full spectrum world. It is from this position of dark clarity that we can lay hold to false claims of absolute truth. From this vapor platform, we can then pronounce with certainty and clear conscience who deserves to be “in”, and who deserves to be “out” – who is worthy, and who is not. We can burrow ourselves deep in the safety of a mob that uses our selfsame brand of social currency – our repertoire of thought stopping clichés to execute our condemnation of those who dare to explore the outside the boundaries of our circle. All can be known if we hide from almost all there is. We can sacrifice the other for the sake of self when we make our pious judgment from our visionary tomb.

Once in our dark, the antagonist is anyone or anything that dares shine a light beyond the comfort of our ignorance. Uncertainty becomes the enemy. And through our certainty, we fail to grasp that our life is diminished to a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and going nowhere. We wallow in a high test reactionary world of responding to what happens, unable to make things happen. We live in the apathetic shadows of this womb reacting to the currents on which our experience rides, without a voice. Our womb of safety is a tomb in reality; if we never emerge, we will also have only existed, never lived. This is that choice between bloody and bloodier, between bravery and the potential for doom but also for victory, or the the asphyxiating squalor of complacently and cowardice, accepting the way things are – a spectator critiquing the game played upon us.

In the same way that burrows protect creatures of the dark in exchange for the possibility of vision and progress, simplicity is a borrow of abstraction for those of us see clearly because of how little we see – those of us either unable, by virtue of apathy and ignorance, or unwilling by virtue of fear or selfishness – we give up the possibility of progress in exchange for safety and the illusion of certainty. If we are unwilling navigate with less certainty but more possibility, which in only possible in the light of day, we stagnate in place.

For those of us that discover the snare, the battle begins within us between cowardice and the fruit that might come from contending – from disturbing our comforting place that offers us decay. Whether the shadows we are shrouded in develop from a parasite to a predator that devours all volition in a pool of acquiescence, or is fought and defeated for the devouring demon it is, depends on the choices we make after catching a glimpse of what could be as we stand on the cusp of order and chaos, between the shadow and the light.

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2 responses to “The Art of Simplicity

  1. Michael McCallion Sr.

    Perfect description of the Muslim ideological premise; beside the insanity of Islamic terrorism.

    • My guess is this topic is far more complicated that could be effectively analyzed here in this format, even if if any of us are sufficiently capable of doing so.

      As far as I can tell, any organism, such as a human or a human culture, that is in fight or flight mode, or biases itself toward that end of the spectrum, does so out of a response to perceived antagonists. Fight or flight is a behavioral immune response that, in humans, is often expressed in part by puritanical “either black or white” thoughts and actions. “You’re either with us, or against us” “They” are the problem, and we must stick together to defend ourselves becomes an emphasized part of the value system.

      PTSD exhibits this same profile, as do nations or cultures under attack, as do people who are exposed to ideas that are counter to what they have used to frame and navigate the world. The root cause of fight or flight behavior comes from some traumatic antagonist, which is perceived and being responded to. To understand why that type of reaction, with that type of emphasis it is being carried out happens, I think it is important to look for the cause of the antagonism. When we confuse the cause with the symptom we can end up blaming the spoon for being fat. That may serve as a cathartic release of emotional frustration over the situation, but it is not a path to remedy it.

      This topic may be above my pay grade at the moment. I tend to think that having each other’s backs without being a doormat is the center of value we should strive for. Nourish when we can, defend when and to the degree we have to, but always strive to bring it back to mutually nourishing behaviors as soon as practicable.

      I could be missing something(s)

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