Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Chasing Wellness / Being Wellness

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

August 8, 2022

This essay, Chasing Wellness / Being Wellness, is the companion piece to It's A Body Not A Disposal.

It is also the fourth in a quadrilogy on Health:
  1. Health Is A Function Of Participation
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  3. Body Heat, Radiant Health
  4. Chasing Wellness / Being Wellness
in that order.

I am indebted to Joan "Joani" Culver who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

I have a friend who has cancer. It's terminal. Yet he's more alive than many perfectly healthy people I know. He keys his life (and his health and his wellness)  to "This is the way it is" not to "This isn't the way it's s'posed  to be" nor "This isn't the way I'd like it to be.". To be sure, he takes all the usual efficacious medications and supplements. Yet in doing so, he's not aspiring  to wellness ie he's not chasing  wellness. Who he is, is being  wellness. Who he is for himself  is wholeness, wellness.

Photography by Laurence Platt

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

8:37:22am PDT Monday August 8, 2022
He inspires me to differentiate between being resigned, and accepting - by not being resigned to cancer, by accepting it, by not resisting it. He even respects it (hence the medications and supplements). Once when we were talking and I was attempting to get into his world (you know, to find out what it was like for him), I asked him what was the most efficacious medication / supplement he takes ie the one that accounts for his remarkable wellness in the throes of such a terrible disease. He said "None of them. The most efficacious medication I take is 'the now'. This is what it is. It's perfect. If it's what's happening I choose it.".

I opened my mouth to argue, to rebut him, to say that cancer doesn't work that way. But then I shut it again and stayed quiet, having realized he'd already proved his point - not by chasing wellness but by being it (his cancer having nothing to do with it).

Out of our conversations, I've recontextualized  (I love that word) what it is to be health conscious (which is what I claim to be). Look: chasing wellness and being health conscious aren't interchangeable, and like my friend I eschew  chasing wellness. It's just smart (very  smart) to be health (and diet and exercise) conscious. I mean, we put the right fluids in our cars' engines - or they don't run well, impacting our ability to get around freely. How stoopid  would it be if we denied our bodies the same.

In being wellness, I'm generating and honoring a context  in which I hold my health. This is now, and "the way it is" is good medicine. It's a trap (not to mention self-defeating) to conflate chasing wellness with being health conscious (the more I'm chasing wellness, the more I'm actually not being  consciously well - no matter what I've got going on with my health). And that's my entire wellness thesis right there: wellness is a generated context for living, a context within which I take care of my health. There's an assurance in being wellness, especially in times of ill-health and dis-ease, when chasing wellness is futile.

I'm getting some exercise, hiking in the blistering 100° dry summer heat of Northern California's Napa Valley where I live. I pause to sit on a bench in the shade for some relief, reflecting on what I've learned from my friend as it bodes for health. What I get is "health" distinguishes something different than "wellness": wellness is a context for living, which is mine to generate, within which health shows up in whatever state it is (and we're prone to add a "wrong / right", "bad / good", "worse / better" assessment to whatever state of health we've got going on at any particular time). While wellness is a context I generate, my state of health is whatever it is.

That said, if I'm chasing wellness by focusing only on improving my health, I've shelved my responsibility (and the opportunity) for being wellness. Health happens in its own time. If it's what's happening, I choose it (whatever its state) even as I maximize my ability to get around freely by putting the right fluids in my car's engine.

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