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Ready for simple

05/15/2012 @ 9:45am

I’m ready for some simple. Life has been feeling pretty complicated and there’s really only one solution for that.

Less.

That feeling rolls across me every now and then.  I’ve noticed that I’m getting up earlier in the morning, but spending less time reading the newspapers and getting caught up on the news from around the world.  Most mornings, I’m at my computer before daylight, skimming through many of the magazines and newspapers you can read for free.  I’ll have a couple cups of coffee while I eat my cereal and then start my day.  But recently there have been more than a few mornings that I’ve just bypassed the computer completely and gone directly outside.  I know we have a presidential election only about seven months away, a couple of wars, a Vikings stadium to build and a bunch of Kardasians to keep track of, but when I go out the door there’s fresh air, singing birds, and the sound of big engines doing something useful.  The news can wait.

We do live in a complicated world, no doubt about it.  I had invited several mothers I know to brunch on Sunday with the understanding that I would do all the cooking.  Since I was trying to impress my daughter-in-law, my daughter, my wife, and my mother, my shopping list required that I travel further afield than usual.  I found myself standing in the aisle of a ginormous grocery store, counting the varieties of coffee available.  I came up with 93.  That didn’t include tea or other hot beverages, just items that called themselves coffee.

That’s too many.   Many years ago, we had a Russian physicist staying at our house (don’t ask).  One day he came with when we went to buy groceries, so I sent him to find the coffee and he didn’t come back.   I found him locked in place, unable to decide what variety to buy.  He’d never had more than one choice and had counted himself lucky to have even one.  Half an aisle of coffee choices just made his brain freeze up.

Here’s the thing.  We don’t need 93 varieties of coffee.  If we weren’t spending all our time trying to choose between coffees or picking a TV channel to watch, we would’ve solved the deficit problem or found a cure for baldness.  Those billionaires who want to mine asteroids for platinum probably don’t even own TVs; that’s why they can come up with big ideas and the money to execute them.

I can use less of a lot more stuff.  How about analysis?  When I watch a football game or the State of the Union speech, I don’t need some suit to come on right afterward to tell me what I watched.  I can pretty much make up my own mind.

We live in a world of experts who don’t really know very much, of journalists who don’t care so much about the truth, and politicians whose prime concern is trying to figure out what we want to hear so they can tell us exactly that.  I’m trying hard not to sound like an old grump, so I won’t even mention much about what passes for entertainment these days.

So maybe “less” isn’t really what I’m yearning for as I head out the door in the early morning.  Maybe what I’m looking for is “more.”  More of what matters, more of what is real and necessary and lasting.  More family, more friends, more trying to end my day feeling like I’ve done at least one thing that matters.


Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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