Saturday, July 19, 2014

Getting Better All The Time

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Been seeing a lot of editorial lately about the big promise, or lie (or whatever you want to call it) that if you're not one of the lucky few on this earth who has a perfect life that it's okay, because things can always get better. Like the proverbial carrot on the stick, we hold out hope in front of our eyes and that helps get us through tough times; times of empty cupboards, of disappointing events, of shitty days. And sometimes things do get better. It depends on how you define better, I suppose. And it depends on us realizing that in order for things to get better, we have to better ourselves. We have to be better. And we work hard to be better.

The world, being the smart world it is, recognizes that we want to be better and offers us a myriad of ways it can help. The government sells us hope comes in the form of a ten buck lottery ticket because someone has to win, after all. Manufacturers tell us their products can help us be better; with fuller hair or shinier teeth or a new do-hickey that does things you really need to have done. We're told we can easily be a bit more like those icons that the fashion and entertainment industry sets up before us as examples of beauty, talent and success even though every day we're a little older, a little uglier and most likely, with inflation, taxes and service fees, a little poorer. With a gusto that would rival a nagging mother, we're urged to use services and buy products that we must continue buying and using (with a nod to planned obsolescence) because being better is something that we need to continuously work on. Otherwise what good are we? What chance do we have at being better if we don't? Enter the self-styled gurus seemingly popping out of every crevice and orifice to give us advice and guidance on everything from what to eat to what to think – all for the price of a book, a seminar, an inspirational tape. Ah, it's a wonderful world we live in.

Marketers spend whole careers pointing out to people how their product is better than the competition's. Politicians take great glee in telling us how they're making our world a better one to live in. Political parties make hay by proclaiming themselves vastly better for us than other parties. Religions preach that their brand of devotion is better than all the others. Those around us daily spend time and money to demonstrate how their lives, their skills, their cars or their weedless, manicured yards are better. And all that is okay. Because it's written somewhere that we are guaranteed the right to be better than someone else.

At the end of the day we all know that our being better is not dependent on what we buy or who we wear or whether we win a lottery, travel south every winter or stock our garage with vintage autos. We know it's an inward glow we give to ourselves that allows for positive thought. Being better is different for each one of us and often happens in baby steps. Like a hyperactive child being able to sit still for four minutes today instead of three yesterday. Or having a puppy realize that they should go outside to do their business after weeks of house training. Or simply being able to pay off another fifty bucks on the old credit card. Or getting back in touch with someone and hearing their smile.

And if we can't see anything getting better today that's okay too, because there's always tomorrow and until then we can rely on that old refrain, "Things could always be worse!"


  1. I like the "nagging mother" line :) It's hard to sell the idea of contentment or settling for what you've got. I think in the end we just have to decide to be happy, and if you're not happy odds are whatever they're selling in a commercial won't get you that happiness. Good post!

  2. I read this again after going through some of my old journals last night. Kind of puts a different perspective on it for me because I am happier than I was 10 yrs ago. Seems like getting happier took work, and it would be so much simpler if we could just buy something that makes everything better.