“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius
There is this story I like to share, something that happened at the final philosophy paper at the final year of the Bachelor’s program. Everyone sweating caffeine after having read volumes of detailed books to prepare the night before. This legendary Lecturer bounces in – renowned for always saying,
IN this course,
E – Is for students that read my notes.
D – Is for students who read what I taught you and 2 other books besides.
C – Is for the brightest among you, usually the best in 5 years.
B – Forget about it, that is for me.
A – Don’t ever dream it, it is not for mortals, only for God when He finally decides to take my course.
A hush falls on the class, interrupted only by the nervous clicking of pens and swish of answer sheets being handed out. The examiner hands out the question paper. A single A4 sheet with a single line printed on it.
“If this is a question, answer it.”
Dumbfounded silence, nervous sideways glances and the thudding of heads on desks like never seen before unleashed itself on the students. And then,
“You may begin.”
Everyone one’s mind was asking, “begin what?”
But against the judgment of their minds, everyone’s pen started, furiously quoting Aristotle to Marx, a flurry of writing of pages upon pages proving why indeed the question was or was not a question according to this theorem or that philosopher. Some even asked for extra sheets, to which the Lecturer gladly gave them.
And as is naturally after such exams in schools, students congregated explaining their answers that covered five to ten pages, aggressively convincing everyone why certain philosopher already answered the question 5,000 years ago – and those who didn’t quote the dead philosopher started sobbing, for having failed the exam.
Except for one student, just one student. He folds his arms, taps his pen on his lips thoughtfully, looks up, and writes meticulously a single line:
“If this is an answer, mark it.”
Hands his paper in and walks out.
As bemusing as the original question might have been for the students, so was the reverse effect on this legendary lecturer with this student’s answer.
He received the highest grade in the class in 20 years. He got the grade for God!
Life is really simple, stress-free but out of foolishness and the need to copy others – we complicate it! We even invented tools to make life even more unbearable further – social media, TV, reality shows, smartphones, data plan, associations and communities, Celebrity club and so on.
The problem with life is that we think it‘s hard. We overthink everything, we have to know the outcome of every decision we make. We have to know how things will work out even before we start. We assume the grandmasters on the Chessboard of life, whereas life has placed no piece on the board. The truth is that life is extremely simple.
Enjoy the outdoors, stay away from your gadgets and gizmos, relax more, cut down on the activities – won’t make you happier, rather will make you sad at things you are always and forever will be lagging behind on.
My epistle will end to you on this note, in all your getting my friend get wisdom but above all pursue the simple lifestyle.
I suspect you are still expecting guides on how to achieve simplicity, sorry my friend, there are no guides anywhere – as any guide written is complexity already. Write your own guide!