“What’s the point in overthinking things?”
– Winry Rockbell, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
OVA #2, “Simple People”
When Winry says this, it’s part of a conversation with her friend, Edward. Ed asked why she got her ears pierced, and she explains about when she met a woman with earrings, and she thought it looked nice. Ed replies that seems like a pretty simple reason, to which Winry replies with this quote. And it makes sense. She is, after all, a mechanic, with simple, grounded concerns, and needing to address intricate problems as simple and effectively as possible.
Interestingly, the woman she refers to once kept her hair short, until she met Winry and thought her long hair looked nice. A simple reason, but, as a sniper, most things are simple with her: she pulls the trigger and an enemy falls. Simple.
It may be a bit strange for me to talk about not overthinking things, considering I write a blog that hinges on how much thinking I do about things that most people don’t think that much about. But I honestly appreciate simple things. There’s a power in simplicity, and beauty as well. Almost everything convoluted is actually pretty simple, if you can get a decent perspective on it. And how much of a mess do we humans make of things by overthinking simple things?
Take, for example, when people experience attraction and affection. I invite you, my wonderful audience, to name one thing that we overthink and overcomplicate more. We try to guess what each other is thinking, feeling, or wanting, we second-guess ourselves constantly, we put on charades of our best selves as we see them, we engage in extremely elaborate forms of courtship… really, wouldn’t be so much nicer if we could just say, “I like you and I am interested in getting to know you better. Would you like to go on a date?” And then to receive a simple, sincere “Yes” or “No” and move on with life.
I remember those old tips someone came up with for Evil Overlords. One of my favorites is, when the hero arrives to kill them, have a granddaughter standing there so you can say, “Please explain to my granddaughter why you are going to kill me,” and when the hero engages in a long, overly-complicated explanation of morality far above her head, she pulls a rope to send the hero into a pit of crocodiles. Mind you, I recall that one so vividly mostly because my answer would be to simply kill the overlord and say, “No,” but also because I wouldn’t need an overly-complicated answer. Morality can oftentimes be quite simple when it comes to what we choose and why we choose it. Complications are almost always attempts to try and bend morality to us instead of the other way around.
And then there has been my own personal experience at work of late. Skating around details, suffice to say I have been largely unsatisfied with my current station in life, and angry with myself for failing to do better. I’ve been trying to count my blessings, to stay positive and grateful for what I have, but… well… my job leaves me a lot of time to think about how much it sucks, and once one starts with that, it’s easy to get caught in a loop of negative thinking and negative feelings. I think about it too much, and I get stuck in a bad place a lot of the time.
It is very, very possible to think too little about things, to be ruled by easily-swayed emotions in the heat of the moment, but it’s certainly possible to go the other way, too.
As with so many other things, we must balance ourselves. Fortunately, that’s why we have each other.