Saturday, 2 November 2013

Things get awfully tangled sometimes

I like to think that my life is one long learning journey. I like to believe that every day I am learning something new. Something that I can make use of, to change the way I engage with things in a positive way.

I'm not sure I always manage to live up to that ideal. Sometimes, I even think I might be going backwards. But wherever I go and whatever I do, there is one thing that constantly hits me.

Gosh we humans are good at complicating things.

It happens all the time. You start off with the best of intentions. You have a clear goal and a simple plan. And then what happens? Things get complicated.

Sometimes it isn't just you. The more you involve other people, the more you know things are going to start getting tangled up. But other times, you can't actually blame other people. It just seems to happen that way. Everything seems clear and simple, until suddenly it isn't.

Of all the lessons I've taken from life, I think this would have to be one of the biggest ones. It's had a massive impact on the way I try to live my life from day to day. I'm constantly telling myself, "Keep it simple. Don't try to complicate anything." Because I know that no matter how simple I try to make it, it won't stay that way for long. But at least if I try to make it simple at the beginning, I can limit the extent of the complexity that will eventually overtake it. 

I think this is one of the big factors with my writing as well. I try to keep my stories as simple as I can. That's partly because I know that somewhere down the line they're going to get much more complicated, and I'll need to figure out how I can manage that. But also because they help to accentuate that message back to me. I think one of the main goals of most of my stories is to try to show the simplicity that lies beneath all of the complexity we create, for example using insects to demonstrate the absurdity of modern political processes in my novella Flidderbugs.

Anyway, I think I better quit this before it starts to get way more complex than I can handle. Hope you have a great (and not too complicated) week.


  1. Complexity is just mass simplicity. There is order in chaos; we’re simply too limited to be able to grasp it in its entirety. The longest novel is made up of chapters like any other and those chapters are made up of paragraphs which contain sentences made up of words that every one of us can grasp. Just not all at once. That’s why I write short poems. And fairly short novels too. But the poems especially I keep short because you expect people to think about them. So don’t give them too much to chew on. Mostly what needs to be said can be expressed in very few words anyway. If we think about it long enough beforehand. I love these stories of ancient characters who think for a long time before they speak. I recall an old native American in Fup who was like that. From the book:

    Granddaddy had sensed it before Johnny Seven Moons reached the porch, asking if he might do a chore or two in exchange for something to drink, preferably whiskey. They sat on the porch and drank whiskey for two days and well into late evening of a third. Grand-daddy Jake found him to be an excellent companion, for in that time Johnny Seven Moons didn't utter a word-just sat sipping from his jar, gazing at the day, the night, calmly and extremely still.
                On the third evening he took a deep breath and turned to Jake: "Let me tell you about my name, Seven Moons. I added the Johnny when the white man came because I thought it sounded young and sexy, but it didn't seem to do much good. I think it's bad now to just make up names, but I keep it to remind me you must live with your mistakes. I earned my name Seven Moons when I trained as a doctor. I went away alone to find my name in a vision. I wandered and sought without food for three days, a week. Nothing happened. On the seventh day, as the sun touched the sea, I came across a group of maidens from another village out on a foraging trip for reeds and berries. It was a warm fall night. They were camped along a stream, cooking a fat salmon, and had acorn bread and berries. Have you not found in your life that hunger becomes most intense near the point of imminent satisfaction? I joined them, and we feasted. And that night, as the full moon travelled the heavens, I made love with every one of them, and with each I felt the full moon burning in my body, a great pearly light exploding inside my head. Seven Maidens. Seven Moons." He paused, smiling in the dusk. "Your whiskey… four moons, maybe five."

    1. Hi Jim,

      Interesting excerpt - thanks for sharing.