“The deeds were done and done again as my life is done in Watermelon Sugar.”
—Richard Brautigan

The Better Theory maintains that every experience presents one with an opportunity for personal growth. Crisis teaches you cool; pain teaches you pleasure; love teaches you loss. Every large and small and good and bad thing that comes at you, then, has the potential to propel you forward into, well, something better. All we have is now, and nothing else exists except that, so anything right now is always better than even one second before now. And now. And now. Get it?

All you’ve got to do is climb aboard, hang on tight, and push yourself forward into the abyss.

It’s a tricky theory to keep up with—try having “better” be the first thing out of your mouth next time you stub your toe or hear terrible news. But the truth is, Better works.

The Better Theory, the story goes, is your ticket out of all the things that bind you. It’s a reminder that you can turn even your worst misery into your most enlightened teacher. Heed the Better Theory, and those things entering your life of which you are most afraid become your free pass to your next level of understanding and calm. Watch how Better makes you kinder, more patient, more peaceful. Try saying “Better” the next time you feel yourself slipping. Test drive it as your safe word or code.

The man who taught me Better isn’t here anymore—at least, not in the way he always was. I’m heartbroken. But more than heartbreak, frustration, anger, longing, and fear, there’s something else. There’s a word I remember; one I climb inside of and wrap around me and suddenly everything slows down enough for my knees to stop their incessant shaking.