Basic Things We Manage to Complicate

by Belinda Munoz on April 11, 2011

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m no expert at interpreting RLS’s words but this quote speaks to me of the way being human, in its most fulfilling sense, unfolds naturally. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably experienced how easy it is to complicate being human. Any number of things can get in the way of us being as true to ourselves as possible. There’s fear. There’s doubt. There’s denial. There’s apathy. There’s ignorance. There’s apathy resulting from ignorance and vice versa. And so on and so forth.

But I suspect that when we commit to engage in our own lives, we can expect a certain degree of transformation that lets us access the value of what RLS refers to as the best things in life.

Some basic things that can be incredibly easy to complicate:

Friendship. For children, it’s as simple as There you are; let’s play. For grownups, other things come into play such as strings attached, an unspoken expectation of reciprocity and keeping score. Perhaps there’s a good reason for how grownups, communities, countries form alliances. But who says there needs to be a reason to be a friend?

Standing up for what’s right. Maybe we flip-flop and flail in the midst of a huge domestic or foreign policy issue where we don’t know all the facts. Maybe we flail when an unprecedented foreign policy issue makes the headlines. But I wonder if the most basic sense of right and wrong is or isn’t instilled in most of us. And if something isn’t looking so black and white with a little prodding, then perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to make judgments.

Apologizing for our fault(s). Pretend nothing’s wrong? Sweep it under the rug? Hope the offense goes unnoticed? Maybe. Except for a little thing called a conscience. It’s this pesky little thing that may keep us from getting a good night’s sleep if we know deep down that we owe someone an apology.

Acknowledging the world doesn’t revolve around any one person or one nation. For a four-year old, this is a real challenge. But as one’s ego develops, so does the Freudian super-ego evolve. We hope.

Love. If we want love, we give love. A whole bunch of people figured this out well before our generation. How we want love manifests in many ways; some peaceful, some violent. How we give love, how we feed and sustain the ticking of the metronome of the heart is a human capacity worth every poem ever penned, every lyric ever sung and every story ever told.

Maybe one day, we’ll learn to give love as much as we want love. And maybe then we can hope to truly simplify the complicated.


I’m sure I’ve missed some. Care to add anything?

Image by Thai Jasmine,

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch April 11, 2011 at 4:50 am

Well RLS was quite wise, and it is true that there’s joy to find in simple things and daily tasks. But I’m pretty sure he never saw my hugs piles of laundry, waiting for my attention. A joy-sucker, that laundry. :)


2 Belinda April 11, 2011 at 8:01 am

Ha. I wonder who did his laundry…


3 ayala April 11, 2011 at 5:48 am

I love the quote. The points you cover here are good and I have to agree with you that love is what fuels us. If there was more love given in the world the world would be a better place. There are so many children growing up abused and neglected and they can’t find their way because no one cares about them. It’s complicated and sad. A part of being human is having our basic human needs met….or having the strength to overcome that too.


4 Mama Zen April 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

I think that you make a really good point about friendship. We grown-ups do attach an awful lot of baggage to it, don’t we?


5 Sara Healy April 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Belinda — I love how you make us think with your writings. This one has a lot to think about. The one I zeroed in on was about knowing what’s right and standing up for what we believe in.

I’ve always been fascinated about how people decide when to take a stand about something they think is unjust. I have more questions about this than answers. When you talk about the BIG world events, the right or wrong action can seem very clear because we’re looking back through the eyes of history. But what about right now? What in our lives, our communities, our world is happening right now that doesn’t feel right. What does it take for a person to reach the point of saying, “I can’t ignore this anymore; I have to do something NOW.” See I’m already complicating this subject:~)


6 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri April 13, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I love that quote Belinda and I agree with the sentiment here. I don’t know why complicate things. It doesn’t need to be this way, yet we continue to participate and encourage more complicated behavior. No solutions on my part, but I completely understand where you are coming from.


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