On the Dangers of Simplicity


(NORTHERN IRELAND, Belfast) Sunset on the River Lagan. (Photo taken by the author.)

(NORTHERN IRELAND, Belfast) Sunset on the River Lagan. (Photo taken by the author.)

There is danger in simplicity. There’s a necessity to it, yes; a beauty in it, even more. But danger too, though this is harder and rarer to find.

The danger lies in this: in not wanting for fear of want; in surrendering all hope, all attachment and all desire for an equanimity as harmful as it is false.

I am slowly and gradually weaning myself away from simplicity. Prolonged and extreme austerity has made a miser of my soul. The heart may approximate the size of a fist, but it’s meant to be used with the generosity of an open hand.

Of course, it’s vastly easier to be generous with the other rather than the self (the self is the least of all the others; in this day and age, the more appropriate injunction is to love the self as we would love the other).

Like everything else, generosity is about trust, and I suppose, about love: the two things that refuse to submit to the calculus of the sober mind. We’re generous not because we can afford it or because we deserve it, but just because. (In fact, the less we can afford it and the less we deserve it, the more generous our acts of generosity are.)

Fortunately, the heart is a muscle (that just so happens to be the size of a fist). Which means the more we use it, the stronger it gets.

Like everything else, fortunately enough, generosity is about practice too.

Let the drills and the repetitions begin.

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