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

Always Here:

A He Said She Said

Starbucks Coffee, Vallejo, California, USA

June 16, 2017

"The physical universe is my guru."  ...   answering the question "Many people have a guru. Who is your guru?" 
This essay, Always Here: A He Said She Said, is the companion piece to Where You Go When You Die.

If you look up the adjective "adventurous" in the dictionary, it's likely you'll see her photograph in the margin, illustrating it. More than almost anyone else I know, she chooses carefully whatever she's going to participate in next. She's very, very specific with what she considers, selecting from within a narrow spectrum. But once she's made her choice, she throws  herself into whatever it is - wholeheartedly, totally, completely, fully-commitedly. And once she's in it, she plays like she's in it for life.

Happy to be with her again, I listened her sharing what she's up to now. She said she was newly engaged in practices which enhanced her experience of and access to the spirit world  (that's what she called it). I respect peoples' practices. If I myself don't practice their practices, there's neither an implied disagreement with them, nor a criticism of them. It's simply that I don't practice them. I myself have no investment in the (quote unquote) spirit world - which doesn't deny she gets value there.

Look: she said she gets value there? Therefore she does! I said there's no other world for me. For me, there's no other world worth living in. "I'm always here" I said.

I'd considered emphasizing "here"  when I said that (like "I'm always here")  to underscore the point. Instead, mindful of how we human beings are thrown to misinterpret things, I knew I had to tread carefully. Emphasizing it, could actually get in the way of the very point I was making (it's pure Zen: when you emphasize "here", you unwittingly reinforce the distinction "there", when there's really only "here"  here, yes?). So I said "I'm always here" - just like that: bland, no inflection, no emphasis, no stress ... and waved my raised arm instead, spontaneously gesticulating to the walls, the floor, the ceiling - ie the physical space:  "I'm always here.".

She seemed to take it as a rebuttal. In fact I intended it as a contribution. And isn't that classic he said she said?  (we've all been there). Collecting herself, she said "There's a place you go when you die?". She said it one third assertion, one third challenge, one third question, and expounded on it for a while. I said "Maybe there is such a place; I don't know  if there is or there isn't. But whatever that place is or isn't, it's what's next  - eventually", my point being that whatever it is about that place it's said we go when we die, you can be god-damned assured  it won't be what people usually ie colloquially  believe it to be. All we know for sure is it's coming.

That's all we know, really, with certainty: it's whatever's next. Every human being who's ever walked the face of this Earth has confronted that. And to borrow the call from the children's game of hide-and-seek:  it's coming, ready or not!  It's whatever's next. That's what I said. Like that. And she said ... nothing, her brow furrowing.

Expanding, I said "This  place ie this here, this now, is the coffee shop, and I'm drinking coffee. When this ends, this  place ie this  here, this  now, will be the freeway, and I'll be driving. I don't yet know what that will be like. But it'll be the next place I'll eventually be, and I'll find out soon enough what it's like. It's whatever's next. Where we go when we die, wherever it is, is like that.". "Oh no!  It's not  as simple as that?" she said, again in thirds. "... or ... maybe ... it is  ..." I said, my attention suddenly captured by a burst of sunbeams dancing on a glass cabinet, dappling it with prismatic flashes of light - for the first time, not looking her directly in the eye.

Too soon, it was time to go. Standing outside, not cocooned by the white noise of the coffee shop's air-conditioning, I could now hear the sound of the freeway close by, beckoning me. She hugged me warmly, and I her, my mouth so close to her cheek I kissed it, and whispered in her ear. "I love you" I said. "Thank you" she said.

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© Laurence Platt - 2017, 2018 Permission