Struggling for Simplicity

Struggle and simplicity sound almost like an oxymoron. Struggle is hardly simple, motives clashing with other motives, jarring with intended and unintended effects. Simple is crystal clear, struggle is opaque and heavy, like lids on coffins that do not yield identifiable corpses.

Then again, striving towards simplicity is process and characterized at its different phases differently. Maybe the process does not end but we imagine the end at the start and middle of the journey only because by definition a journey has an end

Back in Iloilo when my sister and I were attending my uncle’s high school we would order a bowl of soup from an wizened old woman who lived under an acacia tree to one side of the pasture-like school campus. She would serve us soup in chipped shallow white bowls that usually had no visible scrap of met. It was just a few noodles and maybe bits of scallions but the soup remains to this day the best food I ever had!

Forgettable memories like this defy intelligent laws. Why do some memories stay on and on to shape our perceptions decades after the event and some memories barely make a dent in our cumulative experience?

From those halcyon years at that cow-patch high school I graduated to college, moved for medical school in Manila where I crammed courses in the rainbow experiences of a dense,  Asian metropolis. I crossed the ocean and a continent to New York, settled in the Middle West, then toured Europe. The crystal gained more facets than I can describe.

Maybe this is why today I find myself searching for the simple truths, that clear, untrammeled sky of youth where sensations stood out singularly and I would trade complexities for a single reality.

After a short workout at the gym this evening I arranged cauliflower pieces in a small sauce pan, added chunks of Roma tomato and two scallions cut in three-inch lengths, and a fourth of a cup of water to barely cover the bottom of the pan. I covered the pan, turned on the heat to high and in five minutes had this stew. Simplicity itself!


About orlando gustilo

Digital content producer, photographer, writer.
This entry was posted in Filipino cuisine, memoirs, philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Struggling for Simplicity

  1. Kellie says:

    Such a beautiful, and yes – simple – encapsulation of life. How it always comes back round again to what brings us pleasure and love.

  2. ShimonZ says:

    Like yourself, I have a great love for simplicity, though part of the awareness of simplicity is the perspective we have of it, and how closely we examine any object of interest. But regarding our lives, I like to think of simplicity as a different stage of existence… one that comes after the struggle. A later incarnation… when the struggle has produced an enlightenment, or many enlightenments… and then a new incarnation, as a frog that has emerged from a pollywog or a butterfly from a worm. I lift my glass with you, to simplicity.

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