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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Uncomplicating Life

Mma Ramotswe is the owner/operator of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the first in a delightful series of books by Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana. The novels are all the more interesting to me since I was blessed to spend a week in this fascinating country several decades ago.

In The Kalahari Typing School for Men (Book 4 in the 19-book series), the author muses that “there were occasions on which Mma Ramotswe marveled at the ability people had to complicate their lives.”

Yes, indeed.

It can be easy to romanticize the good ol’ days when things were so much simpler. Notwithstanding that oft-mistaken fallacy, the fact remains that we oftentimes allow our lives to become more labyrinthine than needs be. Life is composed of desiderata, but the wise person discerns needs from wants and then makes prudent choices with respect to the latter. Mma Ramotswe’s wonderment is focused on unwise folk for whom imprudent choices seems to be a way of life.

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.” Hyperbole for effect, of course. But striving purposefully and diligently to apply the principle to one’s life might very well add to a greater measure of the peace Thoreau felt gazing contentedly (sometimes for hours) at Walden Pond.

Easier said than done? Well, shoot . . . ANYTHING’S easier said than done. Especially when the thing that needs doing is worthwhile. The first step is recognizing and admitting that one’s life is over-complicated. The second step is analyzing the complicating factors and determining which are the really important ones. The third step is to then cut out (or put on hold) some of the unnecessary activities that are contributing to a felt sense of burden.

There are, of course, requisite aspects of life that are largely beyond our control, such as paying taxes. But a huge percent of anyone’s existence is a matter of choice. Much of what people think they “have” to do is not, in fact, incumbent. My proposition is that an individual who senses life as taxing or arduous would feel much more at ease, balanced, and pleased with life if he/she did some serious introspection followed by positive choices leading to a less complicated existence.

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