Simplicity

Parallel Worlds

I spent a few days some years ago walking along Offa's Dyke, the ancient boundary between England and Wales built by King Offa in the 8th Century. In May, the border country is stunningly beautiful with the fresh growth, the extraordinary range of greens and the delicate hedgerow flowers. When all I had to do each day was to walk to my destination for the day, life became very simple, divorced as I was from the everyday complexity that I, like most of us, am usually immersed in.

Having finished the walking, I was on a bus travelling home gazing at the passing countryside and I noticed my mind turning back to my everyday life and to the tasks and obligations awaiting me - the 'musts', the 'shoulds', next week's schedule, and so on.

And then I saw through the window a path leading across a field to a stile and beyond the path continuing into the countryside. And, for a few seconds, I was on that path, stepping over the stile and disappearing back into the simpler, carefree world I had inhabited the last few days.

What I learned in that moment is how thin the lines between the different ways we approach our lives are - and also how wide the gulf between them! Back in my everyday life it is so easy to fall victim to the complexity of my outer life - and it is possible, even in the midst of this - to choose the path of simplicity.

"Asceticism is not that you should not own anything, but that nothing should own you."

Ali Ibn Abi Talib