Simple, Complex and Complicated

On facebook, I come across people who show their relationship status as “it is complicated.”  It is a fact that this is a willful selection by them as facebook does not give it as a default option. So being in a state of complicated is man-made. Why does not facebook have a status option of “it is complex?” Complexity is naturally occurring while being in a complicated state is artificial. So we have an option to not complicate our life, and at the same it is inevitable that we need to pass through the complexities of life. Simplicity and complication are two modes of life, and which mode is to be chosen is a man’s decision. This decision has a large bearing on how he carries on with his daily life so on his life itself. A downside part of this selection is that many fail to understand correctly the complex elements of life, resulting in them leading a life of complication, instead of simplicity. In other words, a man misses simplicity to complication when he fails to learn the elements of complexity.

We are used to the saying: “keep life as simple as possible.” What does this mean? Many people lament that life is never easy for them. And that stands correct as life is not simple or easy, but it can be made easy and simple. In the same breath, life is simple and can also be made complicated depending upon what a man does with and in his life. Hence, it is possible to have simplicity in life without getting it complicated. So, what do we have to do to have a life of simplicity?  In order to move further on this, we need to understand the meaning of each of these terms: simplicity, complexity and complication as well as the linkages among them. Though they seem to be diametrically opposite, simplicity and complexity are related to each other in as many ways as possible. Complexity, in fact, is the way to simplicity and vice versa. For easy understanding, let me make two statements: life is as complex as simple, and life is as simple as complex. Although they sound different, complexity and simplicity, in the ultimate analysis, share the same thing. And failure to understand the nitty gritty of the relation between simplicity and complexity leads to the state: life is complicated.  

Simplicity is the way that offers the shortest space and time to reach the natural setting. In other words, a life of simplicity means that a man leads a life of being in harmony with his natural settings without inimically manipulating them so that he can understand and is understandable without any discounting or inflating. So there cannot be any “short of or excess” in the realm of simplicity in life. Albert Einstein stated that the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line. Simplicity, though has the shortest space and time in its amphitheater of understanding, does not offer everything straight on a silver platter but comes as strings in the webs of complexity. So complexity is a web of simplicities but intertwined in all the possible permutations and combinations, thereby making it difficult to untangle and understand it. Though the task is difficult, sometimes extremely difficult and looking impossible, it is still possible to accomplish unravelling of complexities because complexity is ultimately a web of simplicities. I will illustrate this with a couple of examples from Mother Nature.

Nature’s complexity has a mark in all its creations, but it always kept simple ways to understand its complexities. But finding these simple ways is as complex as the creation itself. Food Web is a complex network of food chains, and a Food Web is too complex to understand unless we go through the related food chains. A lion hunting a bear or a snake preying on frogs does not have direct connection with the food on our tables. But our food chain is definitely meeting the food chain of frogs and snakes through the insects and weeds at paddy fields and other crop fields. However, if we do not understand and learn from the complex web of these food chains, then our Food Web, which comprises innumerable food chains that have countless animals and plants with no direct contact with us, can be in danger. For example, plastic pollution of oceans and seas can destroy many fauna and flora which have no direct connection with our food chain though they could be the members of our food web. Unless we understand this complex web of connections that our simple food chain is linked to, we are not understanding the complexities of leading a simple life that offers sustained supply of foods on our tables.

Another example is the Universe. Starting with our planet Earth, the other planets, the satellites and the sun of the solar system which itself is a member of the galaxy Milky Way, the Universe is a complex web of galaxies of stars, planets and other spatial objects — all following a definite pattern showing the Universe in its simple yet complex dimensions. Science tries to unravel these complex webs by understanding the simple building blocks and patterns of the complex Universe.

Coming back to the issue of people having relationship status: “it is complicated,” they chose to be in that state because they have not understood the simplicities that form the web of complex human relationships. Looking at this issue directs me to the question I earlier raised: what do we have to do to have a life of simplicity? Being in a complicated state means that the person is not able to understand the dynamics of complexity. He/she fails to see through the curtain of complexity by not understanding the elements of simplicity with which complexity is made of. And the resultant situation is ambiguity and confusion leading to a debilitating state of painful indecision called “it is complicated.” Whether it is a marital discord or dealing with a troublesome neighbor or official drudgery, one can get out of the complicated situation by understanding the web of simplicities that form the complexity of the particular situation. Such understanding clears ambiguity and gives elbow room to take decisions lifting you out of the complicated state. Do understand that if you are in a complicated situation, it is made by you, hence, can be rectified by yourself by diving down into and understanding the web of simplicities that forms the complexity, failing of whose comprehension led to your complicated situation.

Try to lead a life of simplicity because it is the most harmonious and seamless way to experience life in its natural setting, and in this process, you will tame complexity and avoid being in a complicated situation.

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