Life isn’t simple — no part of it is simple. As humans, we only attempt to simplify it — or, at the very least, understand it in a simplified manner.
For whatever reason, we are under the notion that simplicity is the key to understanding the world around us and the lives we live. But simplicity is, believe it or not, relative. Complexity and simplicity often go hand-in-hand.
Sometimes the simplest possible solution or simplest possible understanding of a reality is necessarily complex. As Albert Einstein beautifully phrased it, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
In a sense, everything is simple once it is understood; it’s what we don’t understand that perplexes us, that seems overwhelmingly complicated. Another question we need to address is whether or not understanding and attaining knowledge is always in our best interest.
The thing about information is that once it’s learned, it isn’t ever really forgotten. If it doesn’t make a lasting impression on us, then it’s likely misfiled in our neural cabinets, but never really gone.
Then, of course, we have knowledge that we can’t forget no matter how hard we try — as trying itself burrows the roots even deeper.
People don’t alway want to know everything about the world around them or their lives — for one very simple reason: We don’t always like what we see. The world is often an ugly place, and most individuals will avoid ugliness and unpleasantries whenever possible.
It gets most difficult to deal with when those things we avoid looking at are things we can’t change, things out of our reach. You can’t change other people and you can’t change the past. Unfortunately, it’s those two things that mean most to us and have the greatest emotional impact.
We not only enjoy keeping ourselves in the dark because looking at the world under a bright light disappoints us, we also do so because we love mystery. We love the feeling of not knowing because it excites us.
Some of us enjoy this excitement so much that we do our best to stay ignorant in order to keep that mystery alive.
When mystery is involved, our imaginations can run free. Once we have too much information, things revert from being mutable and become more concrete. Reality sinks in, and we begin to see ourselves less as mental beings and more as physical ones — we feel weighed down.
No one wants to be disappointed. But understand this: Everyone in the world will continuously be disappointed with one thing or another, from time to time. It’s unavoidable. Turning away from reality only sets you up for failure and future disappointment.
Especially when it comes to relationships, understanding is key to success. Without understanding your partner, you’ll never build a lasting relationship.
And, unfortunately, you’ll never understand your partner fully unless you understand his or her past, where he or she came from, and what made him or her the person he or she is today. Yes, you have to unzip that baggage and let some air in.
People are both complex and simple creatures. There’s a lot going on in there, but it’s all rational thought — even though it’s often based on fallacies and tangled in contradiction.
The issue is that most people don’t bother to really get to know the other person. Half the time we just don’t want to know because we dread hearing about past lovers and other sexual experiences. I mean — let’s be honest — it’s all just jealousy and insecurity.
We don’t want to know our partner’s past because it makes us feel uncomfortable, sad, jealous or mad. We don’t want to know because we allow our irrational emotions to get the better of us. We choose ignorance because then we can fill in the gaps ourselves — with roses, bunnies and rainbows.
It can be difficult keeping a balance of understanding and mystery within a romantic relationship — both being entirely necessary.
One thing that I’m still learning is that no matter how much you know people, no much how much you understand them, no matter how much you know about their pasts, you don’t know everything.
People will always find ways to surprise you. Over time, they change and learn to think and see the world a little differently. The future holds trillions of unpredictable instances that can possibly affect your relationship in trillions of different ways.
Life itself will influence you in ways you won’t be able to foresee. There is plenty of mystery to be had in life. Your relationship will never get boring if your mind stays fascinated. And that has just as much to do with being with the right person as it does with you choosing to remain fascinated.
There is one incredibly important benefit of knowing your partner’s past: being forced to decide whether or not you can continue to love the person he or she is.
You see, we don’t love a person for who that person is, but rather love him or her for who we understand him or her to be.
Most people’s understanding of the other is subpar at best. Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m going to decide to spend my life with someone, then I’d like to be sure I know that person fully.
By loving your partner, you are accepting him or her as part of yourself — don’t you want to know the person you are willfully becoming?
This isn’t to say we need to know all the details, but we should get the big picture. Keeping the information from your partner’s past general will both introduce you to him or her — for the first time — and save you some emotional distress.
Most people’s pasts aren’t pretty. You’re not alone with that. So when you paint your picture, use a brush with thicker bristles.