In the world in which we live, it is often easy to slip into simplistic views of the way in which that world works. Sometimes we cling to that which we have first seen, or that which we have experienced most. We let these impressions or images define the way in which we see things.
The reality, however, is that the world is far more complicated than we can ever put into words, or, as far as I believe, fully understand.
In many ways, this is what makes our existence so powerful. We are capable of defining our surroundings in so many different ways and the same situation can be understood completely differently for two people. Perception, experience, intent, all of these inform the way in which we see the world and help us slip into a particular view of it.
So many years ago, Plato spoke of forms. The idea that everything in the world exists in some other, higher plane of existence, wherein its form and its status are perfect. Everything that we see and touch and experience here and now is an imperfect, perhaps even impartial copy of that essential concept. Though these words were spoken so long ago, I see them as continuing to echo through our world today: we like the idea that everything is somehow reducible to its prime form.
And why shouldn’t we be?
A world in which everything is perfect and by extension, understandable, is deeply attractive, but I believe this view belays another important reality of the world: we are equally and inherently as complex as the world in which we find ourselves. A world that is, as far as our eyes can see, not one of simplistic, pure forms, but rather an infinitely complex one, one in which the sections and subsections of our own minds create further infinities for us to enjoy and explore.
That’s one of the crucial aspects of the human condition that I enjoy so much: our own propensity to further complicate the universe. Our dissections and curiosities make the world in which we live in so much more interesting.
And yet… Sometimes there is the temptation to look at the world as somehow being, to use a crude metaphor, black and white. But I believe we must resist this urge at all turns. The beauty of the universe is that things are complicated and require nuance and subtlety to understand. I won’t pretend to understand the universe, but I do feel firmly that it is with a gentle touch and tepid curiosity that we should seek out those parts of it that are still new to us.
Today I was reminded of the way in which the world is so very complicated, both in the way it is represented to me in the existence that I understand it within, but also in how that related to the other people who also inhabit this existence. To put it simply, I came to realise just how much our respective views impact the world in which we live. It’s a hard thing to accept, in many ways. Sometimes I want to believe that only I have the correct way of seeing the world, but it often doesn’t take long for the universe to shake me of such a foolish notion. Today I was reminded that in such simplifications, I may overlook the areas of my life that I may draw strength from in times of need.
Confounding and confusing though it often is, I do so enjoy the power of this complex world we live in. Many thanks to it.