I don’t believe humans were meant to live simple lives. Our complex, intricate brains suggest otherwise. We were meant to dream, to imagine, to create; to make metaphors and symphonies, algorithms and architecture; to reflect on our lives and those of others. Our brains are plastic and malleable; they grow through being challenged. Our hearts and souls grow through being challenged. We grow and develop through our intricate interactions with others.
Yes, with complexity comes stress, but a certain amount of stress is necessary to spur us on to invent, to solve problems, to see things that can be improved and improve on them. Without complexity of thought we wouldn’t have philosophy or art or literature, science or medicine.
I know there are times when we all would love to escape from all the complications of our modern world. My life over the past three years certainly has not been easy, and not a day went by that I didn’t long for something simpler, for some relief from the stress and strain of caregiving. Yet now that the burden has largely passed from me, I can see what I gained from it, in patience and compassion, in learning to stretch beyond myself to really put another’s needs first. And I learned about and became involved in the world of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and those who are working hard to care for these patients and to find palliative medications and eventually a cure. I intend to become more involved, doing whatever I can to help those afflicted and those who search for medical answers. Will this further complicate my life? Yes, somewhat, but it will offer rewards, and so does living in a complex world, a world in which medical “miracles” are no longer beyond reach.
Could we accomplish such things if we all sat in green fields all day watching birds fly? Certainly we need some days like that, but how much would we value it if it was all we did every day? We’d become bored and would stop growing. Maybe our cries for simplicity are actually cries for more balance in our lives. I believe that to survive and grow our species needs both--simplicity and complexity--in harmonious balance. We need to exercise our brains and nurture our spirits, not exchange one for the other.