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


A Future Worth Living Into

Napa Valley, California, USA

March 26, 2008

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace."  ... William Shakespeare quoted by  
"Living my life backwards does allow me to see the future, so victory is guaranteed!" ... Merlin the wizard

"Into the great wide open, under them skies of blue ...". ... Tom Petty


This essay, A Future Worth Living Into, is the companion piece to It was conceived at the same time as Two By Four Tap.



There's nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo said that.

There's nothing as attractive, nothing as alluring, nothing as seductive, nothing as calming, nothing as magnetic, nothing as inspiring, nothing that drives you out of bed in the morning  as assuredly as a future worth living into.

I said that.

It may seem odd - at first - to speak those two notions in the same sentence: "future", and "worth living into" ... as if there's a choice?

If we're prepared for the future when it comes, we say we've made it, the very languaging of which implies a target, a moving  target at that, a place to get to. Ordinarily, we don't think of choosing  the future. We do our best now, today, in the present, and based on that, we assume we've done whatever we can do to be prepared as best as it's possible to be prepared for the future when it comes, whatever it will be.

Here's the problem with the way we have it set up. When it comes, whenever  it comes, the future creeps in this petty pace  (as William Shakespeare may have said). There's no choice in whenever  it comes either, and there's even less choice in the petty pace  in which it comes. Yet the very idea of "a future worth living into" seems to imply some kind of choice. Here's another problem with the way we have it set up. Secondarily, there's no choice in whatever it will be. And primarily, the focus on making it  tomorrow and living powerfully today  are, for the most part, mutually exclusive.

Can we choose the events of tomorrow? Can we predict the events of tomorrow? Can we even determine  the events of tomorrow? Maybe not. Maybe so. I assert neither choosing or predicting tomorrow's events nor determining tomorrow's events necessarily has any bearing on inventing a future worth living into.

So what exactly is a future worth living into?  Whether we're speaking about the grandiose future of the world, or whether we're speaking more modestly and only about your  future, a future for your life which you personally  would say is worth living into, or about my  future, whether we're speaking about something vulnerable and innocent, something like the answer to the age old question asked of children everywhere "What do you want to be when you grow up?", what exactly  is a future worth living into?

Interestingly enough, no one asked me who  I wanted to be when I grow up. Rather, they asked me "What  do you want to be when you grow up?". In all likelihood, that was all they knew to ask at the time, and I got it. Only much later did I see the value in modifying the question to bring forth something to live into like a possibility.

A future worth living into is a future invented like a possibility. It's a possibility invented in response to the question "Who will you be tomorrow, next week, for the rest of your life like a possibility?". To bring that forth, you have to invent yourself not by coping, not by managing, not by doing well, not by making it, but by bringing forth who you are like a possibility, then living into the future which only becomes possible once you've staked who you're going to be. In other words (perhaps stated in a more concrete analogy) before you get to play in the high stakes poker game, you first have to ante up.

Actually, when you come to think of it, there's no way around  ante-ing up first if you want to play. There's no way of avoiding it. It's just the nature of the game.

Who I am, who I'm going to be like a possibility  is communication, transformation, and freedom. That's my stake. That's the chips I'm tossing, for openers, into the pot. That's a future worth living into. That's a future I'm inspired by. Whatever the events  in that future will be, they'll come from  a context of communication, transformation, and freedom.

Ordinarily we live in a world in which what we do defines what's possible. If you look around, if you watch the news on TV, if you read the newspaper headlines any day of the week, if you listen to the popular conversation, it's plain to see where we've ended up living in a world in which what we do defines what's possible. The interesting thing about inventing  a future worth living into is it's a world in which what's possible  defines what we do. In this sense, it's like living backwards  (as Merlin the wizard may have said).

Although it's semantically correct and linguistically pleasing to say "a future worth living into", it may be more accurate to say "a future worth living from".

Try it on for size. Say "a future worth living into". Notice what's enlivened, notice what's called forth, notice where it lands in the listening of others. Then say "a future worth living from". Notice what's enlivened, notice what's called forth, notice where it lands in the listening of others. Although it may be more accurate to say "a future worth living from", saying "a future worth living into" is good enough for jazz.

This isn't the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" of childhood. This is the "Who  are you going to be for the rest of your life?" of adulthood.

That said, there's a key element here which, if not in place, renders the notion of a future worth living into  worthless. If it's present, the notion of a future worth living into  can breathe - like fine wine. If this key element is absent, the notion of a future worth living into  is trapped in the mire of concept and belief, stiff and intellectual, completely powerless. That key element is transformation, the restoration of who you really are as the source of possibility in your life.

Without transformation, the very notion of a future worth living into is cheapened. It's diluted down to mere positive thinking. Given a platform of transformation to stand on, to come from, a future worth living into becomes real. It's a tangible living possibility, one that's invented all the time, over and over and over, again and again and again - from a platform of transformation.

So how do you turn the notion of a future worth living into  into mere positive thinking?  Easy. Just remove the platform of transformation.

Life moves inexorably forward. That much is observable. There's no choice to stand still - standing still is tantamount to moving backwards. There's no stopping the world and getting off to take a break. You'll get to the future soon enough, sooner or later, even if you do nothing at all. The question is: will the future you get to be one you invented for yourself? Or will you simply get to the default probable almost certain future  (as Werner Erhard may have said)? Will the future you get to be one which is worth living into? If the future you invent is worth living into, you're present to your life now  as you live into your future.

That's an interesting aspect of inventing a future worth living into. As you live into and are inspired by a future worth living into, it brings you present to your life now. In the old model, we do our best today in the hope  of having a great future. In the old model, we may even defer presencing ourselves fully today until  we've reached the future. That's the infamous "Someday!"  we've all been waiting for. Inventing a future worth living into brings our presence  to life now. Suddenly that "Someday!"  is reached, is overtaken, is passed, is in the past, and the future is wide open  (as Tom Petty may have said).

I assert this, for the most part, is what's missing: we're rooted not by the past we had but by the future we don't have. In other words, what keeps you stuck isn't what happened to you in your past. What keeps you stuck is avoiding inventing a powerful future you love to live into which inspires you.



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