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 Trouble With Getting Better

River Terrace, Napa, California, USA

March 31, 2015



"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time (it can't get more worse)." ... The Beatles, Getting Better

This essay, The Trouble With Getting Better, is the companion piece to Shut Up And Do What You're Doing.




I've invested a lot of time in trying to get better. Really I have - I mean a lot  of time. And I wouldn't have invested a lot of time trying to get better unless I was convinced  it's possible to get better (this much is obvious to me: if I didn't believe it's possible to get better, I wouldn't have pursued it). The thing is the belief that it's possible to get better, wasn't something I decided to try out or take on  - like a new religion, like a new role, or like a new job, for example. Rather it's automatic, built in, an unquestioned  foundation of our epistemology - in a word, it's inherited. It's an unexamined yet wholly accepted and widely agreed on notion. And look: the notion that it's possible to get better, really implies more than that: it implies both life and I, require I somehow must  get better - like a duty, like an obligation.

Now, when I'm referring to getting better, I'm not talking about getting better at  something - like, for example, getting better at playing the guitar, getting better at archery, getting better at surfing etc, you know, pursuing skills that improve with practice. Rather I'm talking about getting better experientially  if you will. I'm talking about the kind of getting better which would result in having a better experience for myself of being me. The success of this kind of getting better would be measured by having a better experience of myself as a human being ie by having a better experience of what I feel like  being in my own skin. And I was certain that given whatever it was that I experienced when I experienced myself being in my own skin, I needed  to get better. It's that  kind of getting better I'm referring to.

Here's the trouble with getting better: built in to the very notion of "getting better" is "it's not OK the way it is", yes? Even when there are ways to temporarily propel us in the direction of getting better, the trouble is once they're no longer in play, the current  state ie the ground of being  (if you will) is still not better ... which is to say it's still not OK the way it is. Moving in the direction of getting better, is to move away from that which is not OK the way it is. And that which is not OK the way it is, is always not OK the way it is. I soon discovered I could never get better enough to get far enough away from that which is always not OK the way it is.

Some time around now (it may have been closer to when I met Werner for the first time, but nonetheless some time around now)  it dawned on me that the wish, the hope, the prayer  of getting better merely serves to avoid experiencing the way it is ie it merely serves to avoid experiencing whatever it is I'm experiencing. When I got that, it altered just about everything in the way I handled myself in life from then on. It was massive  for me. Something profound had shifted. I became interested in (no, it was more than merely becoming interested in: it was I became committed to)  what it would take (or not  take) to be OK with all of it  - exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't - ie to accept what it feels like for me to be in my own skin, without trying to change anything, without trying to get better.

Be careful: if you hear "without trying to change anything ie without trying to get better" as giving up, or as courting apathy, or as devolving into not caring etc, I'm sorry: it's none of the above. There's another context in which to hold it ie there's another possibility for looking at it: "without trying to change anything ie without trying to get better" is manning up  ("manning up" as I use it in a personal sense, applies as equally to women as it does to men) to experiencing whatever it feels like to be in my own skin, without trying to avoid the experience, without trying to change it, without trying to get better. The trouble with getting better (which is to say the trouble with trying  to get better) is it takes me away from experiencing the experience of being in my own skin exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't.

It's in taking me away from experiencing the experience of being in my own skin exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't, where trying to get better becomes an enabler, a co-dependent  in avoiding and / or suppressing my experience of being in my own skin, whatever that experience may be.

Try this on for size: the inherited investment in trying to get better, is an enabler, a co-dependent in avoiding and / or suppressing experiencing being in your own skin, exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't. The freedom, the bigness, the acceptance, the willingness to experience being in your own skin unflinchingly, unfiltered, exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't, without futilely trying or wishing or hoping or praying to get better, is a powerful access to transformation.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2015, 2016 Permission