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

Health Is A Function Of Participation

Iselin, New Jersey, USA

September 19, 2011

"Health is a function of participation."  ... 
This essay, Health Is A Function Of Participation, is the first 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.

There's a certain quality we see in healthy people, a certain je ne sais quoi  which isn't always correlated with the signs and the symbols of what we commonly consider health to be - or with what we commonly mistake  health to be. I've experienced it with people who are terminal, yet who are more alive than the people around them taking care of them. I've experienced it with people in their nineties, yet whose alacrity  would wear out young adults a quarter their age. What it is, is a vibrancy, a palpable presence, a quality which exudes. It's unmistakable. When you're around it, you know it - even if you can't put a finger on what it is exactly.
Werner Erhard asserts "Health is a function of participation.". This surely isn't the business as usual  way of saying what health is. Doesn't health simply correlate with a certain optimal physical state? Isn't health just a function of a well maintained, sickness free body? What exactly does participation  have to do with health?

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


when you take part or become involved in something

I've been known to rewrite dictionary definitions of words. The Laurence Platt Dictionary suggests additional emphasis for certain words which don't take into account the language of transformation. This doesn't indicate a failure of the dictionary. What it does indicate is the English language wasn't written for the world of transformation. Clearly it was written way before transformation emerged on our planet. So it's no criticism to say dictionary definitions of certain words sometimes don't (no, can't)  capture the full power and magic of transformation.

The above dictionary definition of "participation" works. It needs no revision. But there's one proviso - especially as it pertains to health. Pertaining to health, participation defined as "when you take part or become involved in something" should be emphasized as "when you really  take part or really  become involved in something". Said another way pertaining to health, participation could be defined as "when you wholeheartedly and unreservedly throw yourself  into something". When it comes to health, I'm differentiating "participating" in something, from simply "going through the motions" of doing something. Health as a function of participation, is wholeheartedly and unreservedly throwing yourself into something. If you imply (through lack of proper emphasis) health is a function of participation like simply being there and going through the motions of doing something, it's an ineffective expression of what health really is.

There are some things I do to maintain health, wellness, fitness, and vitality. I exercise. My exercise regimen (which I mostly adhere to, but now and again I don't) is I run five miles on an elliptical machine at around seven and a half miles an hour on one day, interchanging with swimming forty five minutes (freestyle alternating with breaststroke) the next day. I don't smoke. I'll have a glass of red  wine every once in a while (at the suggestion of my physician). My diet, which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, tends to be vegetarian but isn't totally. I take vitamin supplements. I get enough sleep. I drink plenty of water.

All of the above certainly lay a solid foundation for health. But here's the thing: my health is less a function of what I put into my body, and more a function of what comes out of my mouth. In other words, my health is more a function of what I speak  and the context  in which I speak it. What I'm suggesting is this: neither true health nor sustained wellness nor physical fitness nor vibrant vitality are functions of what I do to my body - as important a role as this may play. True health, sustained wellness, physical fitness, and vibrant vitality are functions of what I bring to bear on Life. Health, wellness, fitness, and vitality are functions of participating. That's  when who I really am comes to bear on my life. Indeed, that's when who I really am comes to bear on Life itself.

It's even more than that, actually. It's that when I'm participating, I'm expressing my own already  health, wellness, fitness, and vitality. I'm being responsible  for expressing my already health, wellness, fitness, and vitality. I'm not simply adding something to (or taking something away from) my body in order to produce health, wellness, fitness, and vitality. Although that's essential, it isn't who I really  am. It isn't evidence of me being independently and responsibly healthy, well, fit, and vital and expressing  health, wellness, fitness, and vitality by coming forth for no reason  ... by ... my ... Self  ... to participate wholeheartedly and unreservedly.

Exercising (running and swimming), not smoking, drinking red wine occasionally, eating enough fruits and vegetables, taking vitamins, getting as much sleep as needed, and drinking plenty of water simply ensure the machine is well oiled and well maintained. That's smart. That's very  smart. If you and I don't take care of our bodies, who will?

But true health isn't really a function of any of that. True health is a function of bringing who we really are to bear on Life. We only do this secondarily with our bodies ie by being responsible for keeping our bodies / machines well oiled and well maintained. Primarily we do this with our word, with our language. Primarily we do this by throwing ourselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly into Life ie by participating in Life, which is to say by taking part or becoming involved in something, particularly by becoming involved in something bigger than  ourselves.

This  is the quality we see in healthy people. This is health.

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