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


The Bluff

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

April 28, 2006



This essay, The Bluff, is the companion piece to Watching The Wall.

I am indebted to Barbara Foerder and to Elizabeth Russell and to Arthur Pufford who inspired this conversation.




It's the exception to the rule. I hadn't exercised in about a month. Prior to that I swam. Twice a day. Half an hour in the morning. Half an hour in the evening. A mile each session. Two miles a day. And more. For eight months.

My routine was interrupted by a bout of flu. I hardly ever get like that. The last time I got like that was eight years before this then ten years before that. I stayed in bed a day or two which interrupted my twice a day exercise routine. When the times came to exercise, my body said "I need rest - I need sleep" and I believed it. It seemed to be a reasonable request to me. However once I was up and about again I noticed my body had taken on the new sleep routine, urging me to go to bed early and to sleep late. It still kept a routine. It had superseded the exercise routine with the sleep routine.

A month flew by. Go to bed early. Sleep late. No exercise.

Although I think it's smart health care to listen to your body, one evening I'd had enough. So in defiance I went to the pool to swim again. On seeing it my body leaped and rejoiced to be back. The kid had returned to the toy store. It purred its renewed romance with the water as rapidly restrengthening arms, shovelling water aside, pulled it through lap after lap after lap.

The next morning I was awakened at 3:00am by my body chanting "Let's go swim in the pool - Let's go swim in the pool" in exactly the same way as it had just been saying for a month "I need rest - I need sleep" even when it was way beyond needing rest and sleep as a matter of basic health and recovery.

After not exercising in about a month I'm now back to my twice a day exercise routine - just like that. It seems as if whatever routine I feed my body, that's what it then wants. The trick therefore is not to break the routine nor to let it perpetuate its rackets like "I need rest - I need sleep" especially when it's clear it's running a racket. It's a bluff.

The bluff will be in place until it's no longer in place. You've got to call the bluff then change the bluff. Bluff the body it needs exercise rather than bluffing it it needs sleep. That then is the routine it will want.

And as I've said before, my promise to exercise twice a day is a bigger promise than I keep. Yet I promise it anyway. I almost  keep it but the truth is I don't keep it exactly. The point here is that my body is enrolled in it. As long as I stay living inside that promise now that I've called its bluff, my body is aligned with it.

What I get from observing this episode is the distinction between my biological physicality, and my intention. I also get I - not my body - am the master of the routines I adhere to, and that while both are OK and are valuable, I choose to swim over sleeping. as a routine.




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