This is my April column for our diocesan newspaper
It feels strange after six years of talking about how we're all seriously over scheduled to find myself about to advocate increasing the complexity of our lives. Recently I was listening to a radio interview that got me thinking desirable, even necessary complexity. I came to the realization that we may be working far too hard to simplify our lives.
Now I've totally confused you, right?
Here's what I mean by bad simplification versus good complexity. As I look around at all the modern wonders of our lives I realize they all have one thing in common. They allow us to shut one another out. On several of the online forums I visit they have a function that allows you to “ignore” people you don't like. Just tell the computer to ignore this poster and YOU NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN! You can do the same thing with instant messaging (IM). Even on the forums where you don't have an ignore function you can just skip over people you don't like. They never even have to know. Our computer and video games are under our control. Don't like the way the game is going? Simply put it on pause. Or just delete that session. Problem gone. If I don't want e-mail from you I just tell my spam filter that your e-mail address is spam and POOF! I never have to read one of your e-mails again. On my cell phone if you call, I see your number and I don't answer it. With the right service on your home phone you can do the same thing.
It's all so simple. I only have to deal with who and what I want.
You see the problem is that people are complicated. They all have their own needs and their own wants and their own problems. Other people are great at causing complications in your life, wanting you to change your plans, putting new questions and choices in front of you. It's irritating and frustrating, and just plain angry making! We ALL wish that we had an “ignore” option or a “pause” button in real life. But we don't. As people of faith we are in fact called to face up to that complexity, to try and help people find the answers and deal with their issues.
Does that mean you should never be able to get away from these complicating people? Of course not. Jesus gives us a great model to follow. When all the complications around him got too much he would go away with just a few of his friends. And when even they got too much he would go away by himself. It's a model that we should use every day of our life. Remember that after some time to himself Jesus ALWAYS went back out to take on the complications.
Our lives are too busy. At the same time we need to make sure that our lives are appropriately complicated. We need one another complications and all. That pause or ignore option is awfully tempting at times. Using it too much robs us of the richness around us, it steals from us and from the people in our lives.
It's time to walk away from all the simplicity in our lives and grab a little complexity.