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 Possibility

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

March 6, 2011



This essay, Another Possibility, is the companion piece to The Way We Are.

It is also the fourth in an open group on Possibility:


The way I see it, there are various positions from which I can play this game of Life, if you will. In this conversation, it's useful to call Life a "game" because it allows me to distinguish the power inherent in simply shifting the positions from which I play the game.

I'll now derive the way I'll use "positions":

When I was in high school I played field hockey in winter. The position  I played was inside left  - which is also known as left inner. When the game started, I stood to the left of the center forward  in the center field. The positions of inside left, center forward, and inside right are the striker  positions. The outers  ("wings"), half backs, full backs, and goalkeeper ("goalie"), on the other hand, aren't usually striker positions.

<aside>

But they can be.

In one very memorable instance, I couldn't believe my eyes as our goalie (yes, our goalie), fully loaded with pads and other heavy equipment, loped all the way down the field from our goal to the opposing goal, dribbling the ball masterfully, and scored a brilliant, controlled goal. It was an absolutely marvelous  feat to behold.

<un-aside>

That's how I'll be using "positions" when speaking about the game of Life, drawing an analogy from the game of field hockey. From whichever of the available positions  you play the game, which is to say wherever you stand  in the game, you not only see  the game differently: you also play  the game differently. What may be difficult or unusual for the game when you stand in ie when you play from one position, may be easy and commonplace when you stand in ie when you play from another position. The goalie never scored (OK ... given my aside  story above ... almost  never) while I averaged one goal for every game. We were both in the same game, but standing in ie playing from different positions.

Now, expanding this analogy: there are two particular positions in which I can stand ie from which I can play the game of Life.

One position in which I can stand and play the game of Life from, is as if the field is fixed  and a given - as if there's a fixed, given world out there  which I'm must navigate through, figure out, learn the rules  of, be mindful of, fight  my way through, make sure I don't get conned  by, take my chances  with, and hope it will return what I invest in it (time, resources, and energy) even as I'm afraid it won't because I already believe returns from this world are scarce.

How I play the game from this position is to do my best to survive: to win and to avoid losing, to dominate and to avoid being dominated, to be right and to avoid being wrong, to look good and to avoid looking bad. Any worthwhile quality  of experience of Life playing from this position comes from winning, dominating, being right, and looking good - in other words, it comes from surviving. And if I don't survive standing in this position ie if I don't survive playing the game of Life from this position, it appears there's no hope  for any really worthwhile quality of experience.

Characteristic of any worthwhile quality of experience derived from playing the game from the position of surviving, is it's elusive, it's enjoyed by relatively few people, and it comes at the expense of others.

Attempting to generate a worthwhile quality of experience by playing the game of Life from the position of surviving is one possibility. Here's another possibility:

I can play the game of Life standing in the possibility ie playing from the position I'm responsible  for generating a worthwhile quality of experience of Life for myself - without having to win (and have others lose), without having to dominate (or having to avoid being dominated), without having to be right (and have others be wrong), without having to look good (and have others look bad). When I say I'm responsible for generating a worthwhile quality of experience of Life for myself, I'm not saying I'm to blame  for my experience; I'm not saying I'm admitting guilt  for my experience. Rather, I'm saying I've taken a stand  I'm the source  of my own life. I'm saying I play the game of Life from the position I'm the author of a worthwhile quality of experience of Life for myself, for others, and for Life itself, and I'm the inventor of what's possible for my life, for others, and for Life itself.

When I took the stand I'm the author of my life, I found myself playing the game of Life from an entirely new position. In my personal experience, when I claimed authorship of my life (which is to say, when I became  the author of my life), I noticed a grand adventure  had started, an adventure which, given everything else I could be doing during my time on our planet, is really the only adventure worth embarking on, the only game worth playing. Actually it's more than that: it's really the only game in town. When I'm the author of my life, when I literally write my own life (as opposed to my life being written by the things I'm winning, by the things or people I'm dominating, by the things I'm being right about, by the things I'm looking good as), I can invent new possibilities for my life and for Life itself at will. I can write and rewrite  new possibilities for how it all unfolds.

There's no shortage of possibilities. When I'm writing my own life, there's always another possibility. Always. There's always another way this  (which is to say, whatever's going on right here  and right now)  can turn out other than  the way it probably, almost certainly  will turn out if it's left to its own momentum with no new possibility I invent coming to bear (to borrow, if I may, from an original idea shared with powerful effect by Werner Erhard). When I take the stand I'm the source of my own life, which is to say when I play the game of Life from the position I'm the author of my life, there's always  another possibility for me to play the game a new way because I'm the source of, because I'm the author of all the new possibilities for my life.

Taking the stand I'm the source of my own life, taking the stand I'm the author of my own life is arguably the only position from which I can play the game of Life in which new possibilities for being - for myself, for others, and for Life itself - aren't scarce.



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