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

Raise The Bar, Break The Barrier

Moore's Landing, Cuttings Wharf, Los Carneros Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

March 25, 2009

"Living begins not when life starts, but when superlatives are possible. Like 'simplest', 'truest', 'clearest' and more, a superlative ends with 'est'. Living, on the other hand, begins  with est."
  ... Laurence Platt, August 1978
This essay, Raise The Bar, Break The Barrier, is the companion piece to Where The Path Begins.

It is also the second in a quintology on Barriers: I am indebted to Victoria Hamilton-Rivers who contributed material for this conversation.

I swim.

It's great exercise. It's low impact. It's intensely aerobic. It works for me in every way imaginable. It's more than simply my preferred fitness regimen. I'd go as far as saying it's the perfect  way to stay fit. And it's not just a pleasant  way to stay fit either: it's also a pleasurable  way to stay fit. There's lots of skin sensations  in swimming.

Swimming is a metaphor for my life. I love to swim. Literally. Not only that, but my daily pre-dawn swim sessions kick start  my mornings especially those icy winter ones, as well as allowing me precious quiet time  (when was the last occasion you were distracted by an incoming cell phone call underwater?)  to get straight about my priorities for the day ahead.

The benefits of swimming are cumulative, exponential. The more I swim, the greater the benefits. By "more" I don't mean "more frequently". Through pragmatic work with my health coach, I've realized exercising twice a day isn't necessarily more beneficial than exercising once a day. So by "more" here, I mean "more regularly"  rather than "more frequently".

When I swim less regularly, the benefits cease accumulating. In fact it's worse than that. When I swim less regularly, the erstwhile benefits of swimming regularly, degrade. And when they degrade, they degrade fast. So I'm either maintaining a peak state of fitness or I'm not. I'm either swimming regularly or I'm not.

I maintain a peak state of fitness, or I degrade ie I backslide. There's no middle ground. With regard to maintaining a peak state of fitness, there's no in between, there's no standing still, there's no resting on laurels.

If you don't swim the butterfly  stroke often, you're probably unaware of the muscles between your shoulders, your "wing"  muscles, which strengthen the more they're used, the more they drive you through and up, out of the water like a flying fish. Yet even though your wing muscles strengthen and become defined through regular use, any strength and definition gained is quickly lost if they're not used regularly.

Just like that, maintaining transformation requires a certain kind of muscle, a muscle which degrades if it isn't used. Just as you can experience a peak state of fitness and then allow it to degrade through lack of practice, so can you experience transformation, then allow it to degrade through lack of practice. Peak fitness is an ongoingly practiced, created  state. Just like that, transformation too is an ongoingly practiced, created  way of living. With both, there's no standing still, no resting on laurels ... up  is the way to go, forward  is the direction in which the action moves.

So you raise the bar above you, and you break the barrier in front of you simply because that's what there is to do  ... that, plus the fact that if you don't, your life is degrading ie you're backsliding.

Apart from that, there's no other reason to.

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