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


Viansa, Sonoma Valley, California, USA

October 3, 2019

"If you could really accept that you weren't OK, you could stop proving you were OK. If you could stop proving that you were OK, you could get that it was OK not to be OK. If you could get that it was OK not to be OK, you could get that you were OK the way you are. You're OK, get it?"

There's something oddly endemic to what it is to be a human being. And really, it is truly  odd. It's our insistence that (no, it's our certainty  that) we're not OK, that something's wrong. In the pantheon of life forms, we're peerless in this regard. It's more than that actually. It's we're unique in this regard. There's no other life form whose credo for being in the world, comes even close to our "I'm not OK.". Yes that's really odd, given even the most cursory examination ("... so the universe set us up to be not  OK? Really???"). Like a psychological assessment, like a cultural assumption, like a religious belief, we are  that we're not OK. With us it's simply a fact.

Even more than that, what's truly odd-er  is that it's only we, who say we aren't OK in the first place (like it's a done deal)  and then we spend the rest of our lives compensating for not being OK, and / or in pursuit of that which will make us OK, like we're fixing the psychological assessment, like we're voting against the cultural assumption, like we're getting saved from the religious belief. Somehow and somewhere along the way, we concluded (albeit falsely) we're not OK, and that our time in life is to be spent (indeed, our life is intended for)  making ourselves OK. We know  that's its purpose, its mission. So we pursue it vigorously. Oh, and if we don't manage to make ourselves OK this lifetime, no problem: we'll get it right in the next  one or the ones after it (yes that's the lunatic extent of this particular premise).

How utterly odd is that! How utterly human is that!! How utterly human is it to live with the blind certainty that we're not OK!!! Look: even a dog doesn't live like it's not OK. Neither do birds nor trees live that way, nor do the lilies of the field live that way (as Jesus Christ may have said). Only human beings live in the faux certainty that the way we are, is not OK ie that there's something wrong with the way we are, so that there's something else  we need to do and / or accomplish and / or reach in order to become OK. In this regard, we keep lists of a multitude of aspects of our lives, on which we check off (or check) items in order to measure our OK-ness.

It may be useful to pause for a moment and consider what these checklists are, not in order to maximize their impact nor in order to make them more efficient, but rather to recognize them for what they are, and to see the inherent folly in maintaining them at all. Then, once we've examined them, they can be discarded entirely, given there's no use obsessing over them ongoingly (why maintain checklists to measure whether we've finally become OK when we were already OK to begin with?).

One such checklist is the "looking good" checklist. If only I could look good, I'll be OK. How's my hair? Are my clothes chic and fashionable? Is my makeup right? Does it hide the blemishes? Another such checklist is the "lovable" checklist. If only I could be lovable, I'll be OK. Do people love me? What do they think of me? Do they approve of me? Do they admire me? Am I respected? Another such checklist is the "bank balance" checklist. If I had enough money, I would be OK (and its partner: do I currently have enough money to be OK?). I can measure if I'm OK by what I can afford. The more I can afford, the OK-er I will be (be particularly wary of that one: it flies in the face of enormously wealthy folks we all know, for whom OK-ness is clearly a fleeting and rare commodity).

There are many more such checklists. We all know what they are. They each track distinct areas of our lives, and are therefore all different. Yet what they all have in common is their basic premise: not  OK, do this and / or accomplish this and / or reach this ... then  be OK. Tell the truth: it's a flawed premise, yes? You're already OK. You always were OK to begin with. You're OK now (the way you are, and the way you aren't). So be OK. Throw out all the checklists. Cut out all the middle men.

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© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission