Sunday, September 25, 2011

'For no apparent reason'

I like simple answers.  I think most people do.  But we don’t always get simple answers in life, which can be a right pain in the rear.

Why are Mum and Dad divorced?  

Because they don’t feel they can continue to live with each other?

Why not?

Because they want different things in life and they feel they won't be able to have them while they are together.

In that case, can my little brother and I get divorced?

Eh, well no.

Why not?

Because you aren’t married.

But I don’t think we can continue to live with each other either.  And I want different things to what he wants.

Yes, but you’re not married to your little brother so it would not be possible to divorce him.

Well then, can we not live together anyway?

What’s the simple answer to that?  No?  If so, why not?  Yes?  If so, really? 

I wish we had simple answers to all questions.  

I suppose you might be wondering: What’s a ‘simple’ answer?  What’s the definition of ‘simple’?  And why is ‘simple’ attractive or desirable?

All good questions and, sadly, no simple answers!

The Free Online Dictionary offers several definitions, one of which is: 
having or composed of only one thing, element or part

When an answer is simple, it either speaks to only one part of a multifaceted whole or speaks to all of the whole equally.

Both of these may be adequate sometimes, though not always.
Any answer that satisfies a need is appealing.  An answer that does not require much or any additional information or processing than has already been expended is highly desirable.  And it is simple.

However, a short answer like Yes, No, I don’t know or Maybe, while brief and apparently simple may in fact pose, mask or invite great complexity.  

For instance,

How are you feeling?

I don’t know.

Why don’t you know?

Hmm…how does one answer that?


How are you feeling?

I don’t know.

Are you feeling sad?


Are you feeling confused?


Are you feeling comfortable?


What is one to make of that???

Or again:

Can you explain yourself?


Hmm…I wonder why…

So why am I interested in simple answers?  Because I find myself asking difficult questions like

What is this feeling I’m feeling where I’m despondent for no apparent reason?
How can I get out of it?
Why does this feeling feel sweet yet melancholic?  And,
Why am I afraid of it?

‘For no apparent reason’ is the least simple of all answers, come to think of it.

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