Familiar Complexity

Familiar Complexity

Complex things can be subjective or objective. Complexity itself describes a state of something’s existence, so in a way it seems always measurable, always definable. But when you get to know something more intimately, when it has become a part of your everyday life, understanding makes it less complex.

A huge grocery store, when first experienced, is overwhelming. Aisles stacked high with different versions of the same items, bright colours and bizarre images on boxed products in some places and inedible ingredients waiting to be cooked in others only add to the confusion. It can be too much choice, too many unknown elements, too many options, and the overwhelming complexity can make a person want to flee towards the familiar.

That feeling of wanting to run away can be a hard one to fight. It’s easy to stay within our comfort zone. It’s easy to avoid trying something unfamiliar. Most of us seem to harbour an underlying fear of doing things wrong, and most of us find comfort in the familiar. It’s harder to make a mistake when you’ve done something a hundred times before.

The reward we get from taking a risk, even a tiny one, can be great. Trying something new and failing seems like a frightening outcome, but familiarity can be worse. Not because we shouldn’t take comfort in the things we know and love, but because we don’t know what we’re missing when we don’t spend time exploring complexities.

The more time I’ve spent learning the complexities of a grocery store and the foods and ingredients found within, the better I’ve become at cooking, and the more amazing food I’ve discovered that I enjoy. My love of flavour is enriched by this complexity. And the more I explore this complexity the easier it becomes to understand it without feeling overwhelmed.

I’m not actually talking about grocery stores, though.

I take Lyra shopping sometimes. I like to spend time talking about her thoughts and listening to her ideas. As she gets older, the complex flavours of her personality are showing themselves.

Her complexity is fascinating and beautiful and unfamiliar. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. It would be easier to back away and treat her like a superficial being – like a child – when I’m feeling that way.

Instead I try my best to understand her by exploring her complexity. My life is enriched by her, both objectively and subjectively. I look forward to learning more.