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


After The Story Ends

Hanalei Pier, Hanalei, Kaua'i, Hawai'i, USA

December 2, 2011



This essay, After The Story Ends, is the companion piece to Fight, Flee, Or Face Up (The Train Is In The Station).

It is also the fourth in a group of five written in Hawai'i:


When I tell my story (which is to say when I tell any  story, actually), and particularly when I live as if  I'm my story (which is to say when I live without distinguishing  I'm not  my story), it appears at first to afford me a certain freedom. It's more than that actually. It's because I've got a great  story, it appears at first to afford me a lot  of freedom - with the emphasis both on "at first" and "a lot". Here's why:

Living as my story gives me something original and unique to talk about, something original and unique to share, something often deemed engaging  and endearing  in social situations. But not so obviously, living as my story comes with two built in spoilers  which unavoidably prevent  me from being free. They're the pitfalls  of living as my story, if you will.

When I tell my story, which is to say when I tell my story about what happened, it's always different than what actually  happened. This is the first pitfall of living as my story: living as my story isolates me from what actually happened. Yes I know it's not supposed to do this. I know telling my story is supposed to sound like  I'm telling what actually happened. But when I look closer, I see this isn't true - vexing as it is. It's not because when I tell my story I'm lying  about what actually happened. It's because my story is only my point of view  of what actually happened even if  I tell the truth about what actually happened.

The second pitfall of living as my story is I need to tell my story over and over and over again in order to stay alive. Living as my story, I'm only alive as long as my story is being told (this is the very essence of a story, yes?). The critical distinction here is living "as"  my story: living "as" my story, I'm only alive as long as my story is being told. Conversely, I'm not alive when my story isn't  being told. When I live as if I'm my story, telling my story affords me a certain freedom in social situations. But at the same time it's required  if I'm going to stay alive. This is a trap  which mires me deep in survival. And being mired in survival is the very antithesis  of being free.

My story only has a finite length, yes? (clearly it only covers a finite number of incidents in a finite period of time). So what about after the story ends? And by that I don't merely mean after I pause  telling my story yet have more of it left to tell. Neither do I mean when I get through  telling my story having told it all the way through to the end. I mean it more literally than that. I mean when I simply cease living as  my story. I mean when I stop identifying  with my story. Then  ... when I no longer live as my story, what (or who)  do I live as? When I live as my story, I am my story. But after the story ends, who am I?

This is the moment of transformation. This is the moment when I see I'm not my story. This is the moment when I stop identifying with my story. This is the moment when I no longer live as my story. This is the moment when I stop being  my story, and instead become the context  for my life and for everything in my life including  my story. This is the moment when my life and everything in my life becomes simply content showing up  in the context of who I really am.

And by the way, this also accounts for why there is (at least, at first)  a natural resistance  to transformation: after the story ends with transformation, there's no longer anyplace left to lay blame.



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