Sunday, June 26, 2011

complex vs. complicated problems

i went out with a friend about a week ago, and he told me about his theory, his theory of complex vs. complicated problems.  i won't go into much detail about the complicated problems because those don't involve people.  but complex problems, he said, don't have solutions the way complicated ones do.  he explained that as a child, the way you went about solving a problem was vastly different than the way you do now, or at least it should be, but that only helps you with complicated problems. of course this theory isn't fool-proof and can be confusing, but hear me out...

complex problems are complex because with every new interaction you have with someone, it changes your entire relationship, my friend explained.

only here's the catch: i think our resistance to change is limiting our ability to solve complex problems.  for example, you have an ex girlfriend or ex boyfriend and you see them randomly one day while walking down the street, and all of a sudden all these feelings of pain, regret, remorse come flooding back to you.  it's because you haven't let change have its way, you've stuck so long to who that person used to be to you that you aren't willing to give it up, let them be who they are to you now.

i realized that i don't want to run into people from my past and already have all these pent-up emotions about them.  i want to let every new interaction with them shape who they are in my life, to let go of who they were.  because this sick obsession with wanting things our own way keeps us from experiencing better things.  just because there were bitter feelings in a past relationship doesn't mean that person can't someday be something different to you.  maybe someday you won't feel anything but joy for them, if you would only let it be complex rather than stuffing it into the complicated category.  see, what if it's not a solution we need?  what if it's redemption?  what if we need to allow change to transform our messed up relationships?

i know that nostalgia can be a powerful remedy, but i think it's a fake bandage.  nostalgia can be good in small doses, but when it rules our lives, it takes the healing from our hearts.

it's time.  to move forward.  to deal with the past and stop letting emotions control.  the paradox is that when we let emotions control us, we miss out on the best of them.  and i don't just want to live my life, i want to feel it.


  1. sometimes you can't shake the past. no matter what you do. sometimes all you can do is turn your back. if you ever turn your head to see if it's still there, you better believe it will still be. be all the more certain that change will take place inside your soul, but don't be too sure that this will happen in someone else, or that your raw experience will ever shape itself into something different. sometimes you have to let things be and walk the other way.

    nice post.

  2. man i wish i could talk to you about this face to face...but yea, what you said is really wise. it's just, don't you think that if you feel differently about it, that in a way it does change. i mean the circumstance might not and the other person probably won't, but doesn't it become something new through what it means to you? i know this might involve walking away, and actually in what i'm talking about i'm convinced that's exactly what it means, but because i know the past is always with us, walking away won't erase it, and i have to find a way to deal with it if it arises, you know?

  3. remember this. you might think you have conquered what you feel, but confront what it was you left behind face to face and then you'll know the truth. the thing is, sometimes you don't have to. sometimes it's not worth making sense out of something. and yes, i think this something can become totally new by what it means to you, but certain things just seem to stay as they are. in my life, i've had to confront how to deal with a feeling i no longer need to feel, but still do. but that's life. especially when you're more emotional then the rest.

    watch again terrence malick's the new world, especially how pocahontas confronts her broken love after she believes him first to be dead and then to have left her.

  4. And yet people change us for good sometimes, and we need the ability to hold onto that as well. If Christ died for us and we just let go of that impact, what good would his death do? We are all tied together by emotions, some emotions worse than others. I feel like what your friend was specifically thinking of is grudges, and you're so right about nostalgia. It gives options for good feelings and healing and reflection, but it shouldn't become someone's reality. Reality is now, the present, with hope for the future found in Christ :)

    Also, sorry for just visiting your site for the first time. I've been real busy and rarely am on the internet. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't exactly been moderating my blog either.

    Miss you! Mimi and I keep you close in our hearts.