Not a return to the once simple and uncomplicated life.
This second simplicity lies on the other side of complexity and perplexity, embracing all we’ve discovered and not been able to discover: ‘Wisdom happily lives with mystery, doubt, and “unknowing,” and in such living, ironically resolves that very mystery to some degree.’*
Oliver Wendell Holmes declared, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.”
Alfred North Whitehead concurred, speaking about “the only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the far side of complexity.”
This is more than wrestling with all the information and knowledge we have. Erwin McManus proffers how an open life is ‘less about gathering information than it is about expanding imagination.’**
This kind of second simplicity is not guaranteed automatically or by some happy accident. It can be entered, though, through the disciplines of humility, gratitude, and faithfulness, else we think we have “made it” when we haven’t even begun. Then, what we have become, we pass on to others – imaginatively, as Erwin McManus reminds us.
What this makes possible is incredible presence, unlike anything we’ve known before: being able to be present to what is – both known and unknown. We find we’re able to take being present to new levels. We become producers of presence, making the invisible visible.
One example of simplicity on the far side of complexity would be the transformation of the group or team which otherwise wastes large amounts of time plodding through its meetings because the issue, data, and relationships in the room are not charged with imagination unleashed through presence, or, to avoid this, run to simple answers too quickly.