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 Place In My Heart Which Doesn't Always See Enough Light Of Day

Hagafen Cellars, Napa Valley, California, USA

October 25, 2012

This essay, A Place In My Heart Which Doesn't Always See Enough Light Of Day, is the companion piece to I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt and to Alok Sharma who inspired this conversation.

Werner asks Fred "What else  is going on?". It's not a question. It's a laser.

For me and everyone else in the room it's a sudden change in the direction, a dramatic shift in the tone of the conversation. With this question, Werner's upped the ante. Fred's been sharing what's going on. Interspersed in a series of snapshots of things going on in his life, what he's said so far is all evaluative  (whether things are going well  or not), preferential  (whether he likes  what's going on or not), and opinionated  (what he thinks  about what's going on). And the thing that everyone's getting yet not saying is in this, ostensibly an exercise in sharing your experience, Fred's not doing the exercise. In this exercise in sharing your experience, Fred's not sharing his experience, even though he's been talking about himself and his life for about a quarter of an hour.

So when, a quarter of an hour after he started talking, Werner asks him "What else is going on?" Fred blinks in surprise. In his mind, he's just given a very detailed  account of what's going on. He's told it all. "What else  going is on?" he echoes, making it sound redundant. "That's it!"  he says. He pauses. Then he adds "I've told you everything.". You can clearly hear the italics  in his response's inflection.

In any ordinary conversation, that would  have been it. It would have been over. Nothing left to say.

But  ... this is Werner and this isn't any ordinary conversation.

He asks again - more emphatically  this time. "What ... else  ... is ... going ... on?". Not a question. A laser. A megawatt laser. This time (at least, after a moment or two) Fred (to his credit) gets something. Slowly, he says "I'm tired.". "Good. What else?". A pause. "I'm disappointed.". "Great. What else?". A longer pause. "I'm disappointed ... and  .... I'm covering it up.". "Got it. What else?". A really  long pause. "... sad.".

I think he means "Sadness" or even "I'm  sad.". But what comes out of his mouth is simply "... sad.". This is an entirely new order of sharing. Fred is no longer playing it safe. He's no longer trying to win a prize  for having a cool life. He's no longer simply giving a commentary about the events in his life ie a view from one of the journalists' boxes in the stands, of what's happening on the court in the game. None of that  was sharing his experience. Now he's stopped doing that. Now he's simply looking into the space  ... and speaking whatever's there. Now he's really  sharing his experience.

As Werner acknowledges Fred (who's now looking anything but  sad) and the room applauds, I realize by watching Werner work I've had a total transformation in my view of what it is to share my experience. By listening Werner interact with Fred, I get the difference between sharing my experience ie sharing who I really am as commenting on the events in my life (which may seem  like sharing my experience but isn't)  and sharing my experience as looking into the space and speaking whatever's there.

There's no fixing here. None's required. There's no rescuing  here. None's needed. In an ordinary conversation, Fred being (quote unquote) sad  would have assuredly called forth either or both  of those responses from many people. But in this extraordinary  conversation, Fred's "... sad" is simply a free expression of whatever's in the space. And it's completely liberating  for Fred to get this. For me too. Here's why.

There's a place in my heart which doesn't always see enough light of day. For want of a better word it's the place Fred calls "... sad.". When I don't share it, I keep it locked in. When I share it like an experience  I bring in out into the open. No dramatization  is needed. No explanation is required. And as much as I'm tempted to tell my story  about it and how it got there, ironically that only serves to keep it entrenched. Sharing it simply as experience, sharing it as a whatever's going on  in the space ie just as a what's so  is like looking out the window and saying "It's raining.".

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