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




Another New (Symbolic) Beginning

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

New Year's Day, January 1, 2019



"Listen: don't eat the menu in lieu of the steak. It's strangely dissatisfying, and besides which the plastic coating gets stuck in your teeth." ... Laurence Platt

This essay, Another New (Symbolic) Beginning, is the eighth in a group of eight written on New Year's Day:
  1. Orion
  2. Clean, Well Lit Quarters
  3. External Tank
  4. The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line II
  5. As Your Natural Self-Expression
  6. Werner's Work In Academia
  7. About Assisting: On Leaving My Baggage At The Door
  8. Another New (Symbolic) Beginning
in that order.





"It's New Year's day!" she said excitedly, "it's a whole new beginning.". "Why limit yourself?" I asked playfully. "What do you mean?" she questioned defensively. "There's a whole new beginning for you for the taking, every day of the year like a possibility  (and even more frequently if you want it)" I explained openly. "But New Year's day is special. It's a new beginning to make new resolutions" she responded challengingly. "That's because we declared it so" I said patiently. "It's the start of a new year and a symbol  of a new beginning because we declared it so. And you can declare a new beginning for yourself any time and any day you like.".

"I'm not so sure about that" she shared guardedly, "doesn't that take all the specialness  out of it? What about Christmas?" she inquired, "what about Deepavali, the Festival of Light? what about Passover? and Easter? and Kwanzaa?". "Our traditions, rituals, symbols, and legends are very, very precious to us" I suggested, "and there's no cause to denigrate them. That said, what's always useful is every now and then to re-examine our traditions and the rituals and symbols and legends which comprise them, and then see what they look like when newly viewed inside of a re-examined context.".

"You say there's no cause to denigrate them. But isn't your suggestion the very definition  of denigration?" she argued. "By not accepting them fundamentally and exactly as they are, you're not affording them the respect they deserve as the sacred symbols they are.". "To the contrary" I replied, "reviewing and renewing the context in which something special occurs ie in which it shows up  for us, honors the content. It may actually enhance it too. And what's more, in so doing, it may even reveal and rehabilitate its source's original intention which, over time, may have gotten lost.".

We live in a world of self-created traditions, rituals, symbols, and legends. That, in and of itself, isn't a call for trouble. Creativity after all, in and of itself, is a revered quality among human beings. The trouble only begins when over time, we forget the symbols we created aren't real  - or, restated with rigor, we forget the symbols we created are not that which they represent. Then the trouble is exacerbated when we relate  to symbols and deal with them as if  they are that which they represent. When what's real is relegated to second place behind the symbols we created to represent it, which we then relate to and deal with as if they're real, having forgotten it's we who created them in the first place, the trouble is compounded and manifests, and an ill wind blows in the land.

<aside>

From dictionary.com:

<quote>

Definition
ill


adjective
of inferior worth or ability; unskillful; inexpert
<unquote>
<un-aside>

We have symbols for the birth of (coming into awareness of) the human spirit / human being. We have symbols for the illumination of human being. We have symbols for crossing over (if you will) from who we think we are, to who we really are. We have symbols for the victory and the ascension (ie for the re-birth) of human being. And we have symbols which represent our origins / where we come from, and our unification as human being. There's nothing wrong with any of them. Nothing. Indeed, all our traditions, rituals, symbols, and legends represent human beings' ongoing love affair with who we really are, and our attempts to re-format our lives in both astute and beautiful terms (also sometimes included in this list are our attempts to re-format our lives in meaningful  terms - but that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion). There's only (and always) trouble when the symbols we create become confused with and obfuscate that which they represent.

But it's more than that. It's waaay  more. We have symbols for wealth, we have symbols for success, we have symbols for love, we have symbols for trustworthiness, we have symbols for what's acceptable, we have symbols for what's not acceptable ... the list goes on and on. Trouble always follows relating to symbols as that which they represent. And the trouble is compounded by the even more pernicious issue, which is we don't remember we're relating to symbols as that which they represent.

Listen: don't eat the menu in lieu of the steak. It's strangely dissatisfying, and besides which the plastic coating gets stuck in your teeth.

"Now, with all that clearly distinguished, and out in the open, and on the table and in full view, Happy New Year!" I said to her warmly. "Thank You. And Happy New Year to you too" she reciprocated accurately.



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