Humans are not only complicated creatures. We are also complicating creatures. There is nothing we do that we can’t make more difficult and complex.

Just doing the basic thing is never good enough. We have to plumb the depths and reach the heights, to stretch things as far as they will go.

I asked my co-worker for a random example of a human activity.

“Walking,” she said.

Ah, walking. Most of us learn to do it as little babies in the age somewhere between crawling and seriously tormenting the cat, so it would seem to be pretty simple. Ever since fish grew legs and crawled out of the primordial ooze, walking has been a reliable mode of self-transport.

Today you can read walking books, watch walking videos, take walking classes, buy walking accessories to count your steps, time you, motivate you and to record your performance. You can’t just walk in your normal shoes or even god forbid barefoot like people did for a couple hundred thousand years – no, you need walking shoes. Not basketball shoes or tennis shoes for goodness sake. That would be crazy.

It isn’t just walking, of course. It’s everything. Houses. Cars. Birthday parties. Riding a bike. OMG scrapbooking.

The impetus for this rant was a comment on a foodie website where someone sniped that you couldn’t possibly let the store grind your coffee beans for you because the flavor would all be gone by the time you got into your car to go home.

Imagine the horror of not grinding your own beans within 30 seconds of brewing your coffee! How does anyone survive that kind of suffering?

It’s kind of fun to complicate things needlessly. It appeals to our big human brains. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes when research and effort and learning come together to a result that is just so perfect – the walk where your feet feel like little clouds snuggled in the best shoes in the world, where you have the clothing that fits and doesn’t rub and keeps you not too warm and not too cold, and my god, the clarity and comfort of those sunglasses – yes!

There is also virtue in realizing how little we can get by with and how silly our concerns can be if we just let them go.

What is really important? I would argue for love and kindness above all, and those are the two things I have to measure all of my other actions against.

I love good coffee and will drive across town for a tasty cup, but if my mom wants to go to the funky diner she loves where they serve something that resembles brown dishwater (and not very good brown dishwater at that), I’m going to try to remember what is important and not give her a hard time about the sucky coffee.

She wants to be with me; she wants to show me off to her favorite waitress; and our time on earth is short.

I’ll make complicated coffee at home (it involves a thermometer and carefully stirring the grounds just so…come over and I will show you) but when I’m out with my mom, I have the choice to make the situation happy or miserable, and I know I can survive a couple cups of bad java. Simple.