Keys to Making Life Less Complicated: Part 1

The apparent problem with art is that it can never possibly mimic reality. No matter how high-quality the camera or how well-placed the painter's brush, the finished product is doomed to lose some integral dimension.

In film, it's context. Lack of real consequences removes actions from their inherent risk. In 3-D art, it's the dimension that most constrains, and thus defines humankind: time. In 2-D art, that lost dimension is depth.

Take, for example, Pablo Picasso's “Guernica,” – a mid-19th-Century abstraction depicting the Nazi bombing of a town in northern Spain. To glimpse upon the event exactly as it occurred would be horrific. However, to see it as Picasso portrays it is to experience it without the emotional dimension of trauma. Ultimately, that lost dimension allows both the artist and the audience to organize and compartmentalize what is an unabashedly afflicting world. 

guernica

It makes you wonder: Does the same apply to the individual life? Can I mindfully paint my world without complexities? And if I can, what will be the effect upon my spiritual, emotional, and creative self?

Over a period of a few weeks, Best Lived and I will attempt to answer those questions in the four-part series, Keys to Making Life Less Complicated. We invite you to join in on the conversation with questions or comments. If it turns out that you don't buy what we're saying – that's cool! Let's hear your side of things.

Understanding What Makes Life Complicated

Recall Kanye West's legendary adage “Everything I'm not made me everything I am.” As far as I'm concerned, his words had ought to be printed on the bottom of the Dollar Bill. Notwithstanding that event's unlikeliness, it is useful logic to inquire into what is complicating our lives.

Sometimes, when you completely cut out the things that you think make life complicated, you run the risk of isolating yourself for no good reason. Alternatively, when you amp up the things that make it less complicated, then those things can eventually override their complicated counterparts.

Rather than ask, “What is making my life complicated?”, ask, “What can make my life less complicated?”. Once you’ve answered the latter, do those things to exhaustion.

But What Is Making My Life Less Complicated? 

Ideas are great in theory, but in practice they’re only good if you can apply them. A lot of people don't know how to identify what makes their life less complicated. Or, even worse, they have such a complicated life that things intended to make them less complicated – hobbies, friends, love interests, etc. – are easily mistaken for the source of the problem.

It would be disingenuous to attempt to tell you what specifically is making your life less complicated. Instead, I'll tell you a story.

Last year, I moved to New York City with some of my best friends from college. We were in a band together and performed all over the city. I was, quite literally, living out my dream. The problem was that I kept up a long-distance relationship with a girl in Ohio. Naturally, I was depressed most of the time. Also naturally, I started blaming her for my unhappiness. That blame moved from her, to my friends, to the city, and eventually to music, itself.

It wasn't until I left the city for a short vacation that I realized the relative permanence and impermanence of things. If I left, New York wouldn't collapse into the ocean, my friends (if they were truly my friends) wouldn't forsake me, and the ability to sing and play guitar wouldn't escape me; but if I stayed, I would certainly lose the girl. It was obvious to me, then, that her presence was what made my life less complicated, so I broke up the band and left New York to be with her.

If there's anything to learn from my experience, it's that simplifying your life is not an easy task. Ultimately, you have to rely upon the idea that when you're faced with a quandary, the choice you make is inherently the right choice if only because you chose it.