When did everything become so complicated?
I love visualizing humanity’s timeline on earth – from whenever it began whether it be 1,000,000 or 6,000 years ago and a line graph heading straight to today. The line proceeds low on the graph until say, we created civilizations and governments and weapons and farm tools where it rises just a bit. But in the early to mid 1900s the line on this fictional graph in my head all of a sudden shoots straight up into high numbers.
What on earth these numbers even mean, I’m unsure of. I’m a writer, not a mathematician or economist. But socially and psychologically speaking, this line probably refers to a sense of manufactured stress surrounding life.
Depression is at an all-time high. Why? To me it’s simple – complication.
One could say ease the age of technology during our modern times has made things less complicated and easier. But I beg to differ.
Call me an old soul, but I prefer little to no technology (I’m writing on a computer, yes I know but journaling helps me clear my head much more than staring at a screen). I prefer the sound of the wind through the tall northwestern trees, birds singing, a brook meandering through broken limbs and rushing over pebbles. And I much prefer reading a book or in-person conversations versus looking at my phone or texting someone.
When I think of jobs today, many of them are extremely useful. But many are not. How many middle-managers does a company really need?
As we talk about war, or schools, or governments, or budgets, or households – when did these too become so complicated?
And is it often seen as a great threat to go back to simplicity, for simplicity’s sake?
So now, I feel this all trickles down to possessions. The more possessions one has, the more important they feel. Consumerism, and the need for more and more stuff has made our world a more complicated place. Allow me to rationalize my thinking:
Do you need another mug? How many people did it take to design, manufacture, ship, market and sell that one mug?
So much energy goes into such frivolous things. And a lot of energy goes into useful things as well. So I’m not going to call it all wasted energy, because it’s not – we are all end users and without end users, the energy would then be wasted if the item is not being used.
But what if we all stopped collecting those mugs? Would the need to make, market and sell more mugs decrease? Of course it would.
I don’t want to go back to the dark ages, of course. But I’d love to slide back into a more simpler way of life, where advertising and the need to have things doesn’t have the same effect as it does on everyone right now. Where the need for tchotchkes and a bazillion different shoes or t-shirts and collectable mugs all disappear, and instead, everyone felt refreshed and energized simply by doing something they love that simultaneously contributes something to society, even if just a little bit – growing our own food, trading our unique crafts, teaching, building…etc. and then at the end of the day enjoying the time and space to reflect on life.
Because in the end I feel complication and the pursuit of consumerism has stolen life from us all. Time we could have spent helping others or hanging out with our kids. Time we could have spent doing something we love or something that matters and doesn’t collect dust.
I fear simple times are gone – unless we intentionally choose to pursue them.
Just think – what could you do with all the time you’d gain if you didn’t have a huge house to clean, millions of toys to pick up, a thousand household items to store or dust-cluttering objects to organize?
Go deeper here – what could you do with all the time you spare not looking at Facebook or browsing Pinterest or trying to schedule a multitude of frivolous appointments? Do you really need to get your nails done or put your kid into seven different extracurricular activities and sports all in the same month?
Let’s go back. All of us. It’s not easy and it takes patience. Patience with yourself and patience with those around you who are still trying to understand where you’re coming from.
But we can get there if we can let go of the false notion that a complicated schedule, more things and the business that surrounds this all, leads to a better life. It is indeed quite the opposite.