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


Looking Good:

What It Really Takes

Vineyard Seven And Eight, Spring Mountain, St Helena, California, USA

August 18, 2016



"You are what you eat." ... Anthelme Brillat-Savarin touting diet

"You are what you wear." ... Jennifer Baumgartner referencing fashion
"You are what you speak." ... Laurence Platt interpreting  
I am indebted to Ian Becker who inspired this conversation.




Recently I posted two photographs in an ongoing series to this Conversations For Transformation website, one showing my two sons Joshua and Christian and me, and the other showing me with five friends. Both elicited many "You're looking good!" comments. Interimly I take these comments as compliments. But ultimately they may prove to be distractions. If I had my druthers, there would be many more "You're speaking  good!" comments as well, with the preponderance of the "You're ... good!"  comments being "You're speaking good!" rather than "You're looking good!". The former is, after all, what these essays are for, even if it's the latter which are more often accompanied by "What's your secret?".

I have no secret. Yet it all got me wondering: what does it take to look good? I mean what does it take to look good really. It's a concern ie it's a preoccupation  for many people. No, it's more than that. It's waaay  more than that. It's a multi-billion dollar industry  for many people. Some of the answers I came up with may be the ones you'd expect. But given this is the Conversations For Transformation website, the most powerful answer may not be the one which is the most obvious initially.

Before we begin, here's the ground of being  for this inquiry: unless you have looking good as symptomatic  of something great ie as an indicator of an already great condition, and not as a goal in and of itself, then this conversation probably isn't for you (Gee! I hope you get that) ... and  ... no conversation about looking good would be thorough enough or truthful enough without the following critical and unflinchingly honest insight: you and I are crazy  about looking good - literally, crazy. We're obsessed  with looking good. Somehow, somewhere (who's to say where), we got the notion we have  to look good. Listen: looking good (that is to say our obsession with looking good) may actually be a barrier. On the outward side, we hope it will attract attention to compensate for the lack of love in our lives. On the inward side, we hide behind it to avoid revealing the lack of integrity in our lives.

There's a fundamental problem with our obsession with looking good. It's who we really are isn't who we wear. And even though it plays a vital role, neither is who we really are what we eat. That's why looking good provides no assurance of our authenticity. Who we are, to put it blandly, is what we speak. And we are what we speak, regardless of how we look. My authenticity is measured by what I speak ie by what comes out of my mouth, regardless of what I eat or who I wear.

It's useful ie it works  to follow a regimen of right eating. There's simply no excuse for putting junk into your body. None. There's no excuse (to deploy the old Buddhist adage) for defiling the temple. In addition, what I find useful is taking carefully selected supplements (I take ten daily) to provide especially those elements which, given my propensity for being predominantly vegetarian, are in short supply in my diet. Vitamin B12 for example, the "vitality" vitamin, is plentiful in red meat which isn't often on my menu. In addition coffee depletes vitamin B12. So it makes double sense for me, given what I eat and drink, to supplement with vitamin B12.

Then there's diet's joined-at-the-hip  partner: exercise. Exercise isn't merely a choice. It's an essential  so get over it. Now I'm not a big fan of going to the gym. It's definitely not in my top ten list of favorite things to do. Honest it isn't. But now that I'm sixty !*%$-ing six years old, the alternatives are far, far worse. Daily aerobic movement is the absolute minimum requirement. I swim forty five minutes on each of two successive days at dawn. Then I do weights for forty five minutes on each of the next two successive days. Then on the next two successive days for forty five minutes each, I walk / run - that is to say I walk for a minute and a half at around three miles and hour, then I run for three and half minutes at around five miles an hour, then walk for a minute and a half, then run for three and a half minutes etc. The next day (ie six days later) I'll revert to swimming again etc. And in case you're wondering, yes my health coach does recommend taking the occasional day off. Rather than diminish the power of an exercise regimen, it may even render it more productive.

All that said, when you take diet, exercise, make-up, coiffure  (hair styling), and haute couture  (fashion) together, they only comprise the entry level  of looking good. Arguably the most powerful determinant of what occurs for us as looking good, is getting complete with who you really are and with the people in your life. There's a quality of life which being complete affords you (and a look that goes with it), which is naturally attractive, regardless of who you're wearing. It requires contacting any and all people with whom you're incomplete (alive or  dead) and getting complete with them, no matter how long ago the incident took place when you did something to them or they did something to you, no matter how trivial the incident may seem. Getting complete with the people in your life creates the space for being complete with who you really are, and vice versa. There's no statute of limitations on this. Get complete with the people in your life. Be complete with who you really are. Then, look naturally whichever way you look when you're complete. While being complete is really no big deal, that's  the looking good people really  want in their lives. Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue, and GQ  et al, and all those coffee table glossy fashionista  magazines? They ain't seen nothin'  like this yet!

Diet, exercise, make-up, coiffure, and haute couture all factor into looking good. But they all pale in comparison to what radiates around people who are complete with who they really are and with the people in their lives. Now if that's so obvious (and I say it is), then why has it taken us so long to find out? It's possible we've stayed in the dark about this for as long as we have because all of us, including the people who would have taught us about it when they were preparing us for life when we were young, were subject to the taboo against being complete with who we are (as Alan Watts may have said). This single factor ie being complete, is the most underestimated contributor to promoting a good life and a great physique and a firm, upright posture and an attractive demeanor, which all exemplify that prized quality we call "looking good". In actuality, all the other factors are so far down the scale of what really promotes looking good, as to be almost totally irrelevant.

By the way, anyone who holds "good genes" and / or "strong bloodlines" as the essential components of looking good (and puts a lot of stock in them) is really copping out - in my opinion.



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