Having: The Only Thing There Is To Do Today Is What You Do Today
From PAGES: Essays by Werner Erhard for the est staff, January 1, 1981
The only thing you are going to do today is: what you do today. Therefore, the only thing there is to do today is: what you do today. That’s all there was to do when you started no matter what you thought or think.
THE “OH MY GOD” SYNDROME
Most people go around thinking that what there is to do today is all that stuff that there is to do, that is to say, everything that isn’t done. This is a lie. This lie leads to stupidity. This stupidity leads to ineffectiveness. The ineffectiveness leads to fewer results being produced, leaving, apparently, more to be done. And there you have the downward spiral which is unworkability.
The only thing there is to do today is: what you actually do today! There is nothing else to do today! You get it? There isn’t anything to do today except what you actually do. That’s all there is to do today. Do you get it? If you do actually get it, you should feel the muscles in your body begin to relax. A sense of freedom and power begins to well up within you.
Now, you want to go to work, get to it, get at it, get it done. And here you have the upward spiral which is workability.
But what are you going to do about all the things you aren’t going to get to today, the things you aren’t going to do today? What about all the things that haven’t gotten done, the things that aren’t getting done, the new things that will come up to be done, the things that need to be done, the things that must be done. What about all that? Huh?
The only thing there is to do today is: what you actually do today! There is nothing else to do today!
EVERYTHING ELSE THAT YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO DO TODAY IS ACTUALLY, SOMETHING TO HAVE.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Having is actually a function of being able to be in the presence of. Specifically, the context of having is the ability to be in the presence of. To have starts with the willingness for something to exist, to recognize it, to accept it. It goes through a scale of greater and greater responsibility up to owning or creating or sourcing. So having starts with the willingness to know about, to be aware of, to acknowledge the existence of, to recognize, to allow to be.
If something comes along that you don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do, the natural inclination is to reject it, to resist it. (For instance, one form of resistance is constructing an explanation or justification for not doing it.) Resisting it, rejecting it makes you smaller than it, and puts you in a mode of unworkability. Now you can’t even ably accomplish what you did have the time and the wherewithal to do.
The secret of maintaining a condition of workability is to recognize that what comes along, what comes up, what you’re given, is, at first, only something to have. Having it starts out with accepting it, recognizing its existence.
It’s simple and straightforward – you allow it to be; it allows you to be. Actually, it expands your being, who you are is expanded by encompassing – giving being to – something new, something more. The context of workability is expanded because who you are is expanded.
When there is a lot of grumbling and mumbling, criticism, nattering, and pettiness amongst a staff, when that is the underlying basis for interaction among a staff, it’s a sure sign that people’s ability to have is lacking. People complain and gossip when they have not developed the ability to have – the ability to be in the presence of.
What we are not able to be in the presence of, we handle by reducing. We have to reduce it, belittle it, be critical of it, make it small. Although we usually fail to notice it, the action we take to make it smaller makes us smaller. Another alternative is that we become unconscious about it. We drive it out of awareness so that it is no longer there for us. The action of becoming unconscious about it also reduces us.
The result of not being able to have is withdrawal and/or unconsciousness. When we cannot have something, we must either drive it out of awareness, or criticize it so as to reduce, or natter so as to invalidate. The whole business of invalidation, suppression, criticism, nattering, complaining and the like is a function of not being able to have. And not being able to have is often a function of misidentifying what there is to do.
What there is to do today is what you will have gotten done when the day is over, and nothing more. The rest is something to have. If you can allow the rest of it to be, i.e., be conscious of it, accept it, it will allow you to be. Otherwise it threatens you, and you either have to resist it or see yourself as smaller than it by comparison.
What happens when something new, for example, an opportunity to create something that’s never existed before is presented to you? Sometimes, initially, the opportunity is easy to accept and even support. It is, until you realize that you have to make it happen. Then you notice that your view shifts. You immediately get into resistance – “I’ve already got too much to do. I can’t take on more.”
You start to belittle and to make it a problem or an unwanted annoyance – “I hate to participate. Things never work. People are too disorganized and besides, the whole thing is all screwed up.”
You begin to develop a system of justifications for your resistance – “This isn’t the right time for this to happen. I have too many other important things to do right now.”
If, however, you see the opportunity as something to have you will notice that the quality of your relationship to it shifts instantly. If you can say to yourself, “I can have this. I can allow it to be and be in its presence,” then you can see its value.
If you can relate to it as something that you are willing to have exist, something with which you are willing to exist, then you can support it. You can then have something and see it for what it is, be with it as it is, and allow it to succeed out of your support.
HOW TO TURN THIS INSIGHT INTO GARBAGE
All of this insight about what there is to do and what there is to have can be made invalid by using the information to survive, i.e., justify, explain, avoid responsibility for. A jargonistic response “I can have that” is almost a sure signal that someone is attempting to avoid responsibility for the accomplishment of something, for producing a result.
On the other hand, if you can confront something new to do, first as something to have, then the expansion of Self that has occurred should result, where
appropriate, in your being able to say “you can count on me for that result.”
When there is something to be done, people don’t care that you can have it. Having it is only the first step. Having it is a way of empowering yourself so that you can produce the result without overwhelm or struggle.
YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET
The truth of the matter is that the job around here is to make the world work – not just to get one particular job done; not to do the training, or produce the event, or operate the console, or type the transcript, or manage the center, or handle the enrollments. The job is to make the world work for everyone. That’s what there is for all of us in the organization to do. In order to do that job, the kind of people we need are people who possess an enormous tolerance for having, people who are able to expand to have it all.
THIS CAN ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN LIFE
There is a potential for an unbelievable breakthrough here. Miracles will occur by your being willing to have. The areas in which you have been withdrawing will now begin to open up and you will begin to open up. The things about which you have been unconscious will now become apparent and your consciousness will expand. You will find that the ability to have will increase your productivity miraculously. There will still be the same number of hours in the day and you won’t be putting in any more time, yet you’ll be getting more done.
A part of my routine each day, for example, is to go over all the things I’m not going to do – to know about them, experience them, be with them – have them. You actually need to discipline yourself to look at what you’re not doing. You have it. It’s an active, willful, intentional thing. To have something is very intentional.
Decide what it is you are going to do today, write it down – then do it. If you don’t get it all done by the end of the day, complete it by writing what is undone on your list to do tomorrow. The only thing you are going to do today is what you do today. Relax. Go for it. Do it all, Have it all, with joy.