“The final thing”, makes me think of death, ultimate closure, coming full circle, focusing on what’s really important. It creates in me a sense of urgency to do the work I need to do. The work that will get me to a place where I am truly inhabiting my own values before I die, where I am living a simple life that expresses the truth and beauty of who I am.
So, why is it hard, this thing called simplicity? Let’s look at it in the context of how Chopin likely meant it, from the point of view of the creative act. To create something we usually need to be inspired, we gather information, generate and play with ideas and develop complexity and depth. We then need to scan for what’s really important, the essence, the core message or feeling of it. We peel away the layers, simplify it, to reveal it’s true beauty. Not an easy thing to do.
As I think about it more I realise that this process is what life is all about. Life itself is a creative act. In the first half of our lives we absorb and gather and accumulate and achieve. It’s all about having and doing.
The second half of life we often feel that although we have done all these things, something is missing. We feel a call to peel away the layers and get to the core of who we really are.
Our focus shifts to what we can release and simplify in an effort to identify what is really important to us, what we value most. It’s about letting go and being. And, like any creative act you can’t really experience the second without first experiencing the first.
I think of ebb and flow, light and dark, yin and yang, push and pull. The older I get the more I understand that life is all about learning to live with these paradoxes. We don’t need to struggle with the dilemma of either/or, the black or white, the right or wrong. All things in life are both/and, shades of grey and just different choices. They all have their usefulness.
Learning to live with paradox can bring peace. As can simplifying our lives when we feel called to do so, when we feel the need or necessity to ebb the flow and focus more on just being.
Simplicity may be the ‘hardest thing’ but it is a necessary thing, and in the end it may well hold the key to the actualisation of a well lived life.