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


Battened Down:

An Inquiry Into Service

Black Stallion, Napa Valley, California, USA

December 3, 2007



Captain of the Ship, Stagecoach Driver, Rider on the Range, F15 Jet Pilot, Source of Thought, Initiator of Initiators, Creator of Creativity: what qualifications are required of me to serve you?

I'm not asking about worship  although, to be sure, there's a level of adoration within a certain context  when that's appropriate. Here I'm simply asking pragmatically  what's the best way for me to be to serve you as you lead our world so the whole thing works best for everyone. What can I bring (or not  bring), what can I do (or not  do) to support you doing best what you do best?

We're tight in our yellow oilskin wet weather gear, racing through the night, shot out over the ocean by the cannon of the storm, hatches battened down, laughing riding the wildest  swells powered by dragons of excellence, blown by the winds of privilege.

A stagecoach rumbles over the rough terrain, pulled by a dozen horses galloping full speed, moving in a blur as one. I'm sitting in the shotgun  seat looking out over the plains, watching everything, expecting anything, surprised by nothing. This ride with you is pure energy. Horses with this velocity leave the riders on the storm  in the dust, and it's all we can do to just hang on, ecstatic, exhilarated, exuberant, and ride them in the direction they're taking us. Everything's tied down. Prior to setting out on the trail, wheels are thoroughly inspected and oiled. Reins, bridles, and halters are replaced if necessary in preparation. It's all handled, so we've no concern about and no attention on the physical integrity of our stagecoach or the well being of our horses. All there is to do is ride, ride, ride.

It's sunset. The posse's  getting ready to set out for the evening roundup. First the huddle, the game plan, then the saddle and stirrup check. Standing just behind and slightly wide of my mount's right front leg, I smooth the hard ridge between his eyes, asking his permission to inspect his shod hoof. When I'm clear he's calmly accepted my request, I take his shin and raise his leg which he obligingly bends at the knee. The hoof's fine. So are the other three. We're ready to ride the range, now merely waiting on your go  signal.

As my F15 Strike Eagle  jet accelerates straight up heavenward like a rocket, unbelievably powerful G-forces  ram me back into its reinforced seat, clawing me to the brink of blacking out. I can barely see, flying almost on automatic, wing tip to wing tip in formation, mere inches separating the F15 from the one above, below, to the left, and to the right. There's one way to do this right and one way only: keep the instrument panel in full view, adjust instantaneously and accurately when necessary (which, at this supersonic speed, means instinctively), and stay present to your voice coming through the speakers in my helmet. This is no dress rehearsal. One move as an independent  and the entire team goes down in flames. This is teamwork to the nth  degree. If you can't play here at this level then it's best you don't play here at all. Qualifying to play here at this level separates the women from the girls, the men from the boys.

Sailing with you isn't for those expecting deckchairs on a pleasure cruise. Instead, it's work requiring full participation and total responsibility from each crew member. Riding shotgun with you isn't for the faint hearted. Guns for hire in your posse require a certain listening, a certain recognition  to follow instructions like "Do it this way because this is the way it works.". Flying in formation with you invites catastrophe whenever I bring my own opinion to bear. While the opportunity's open to all pilots with any measure of experience, those unable to (or uncertain if they can) recreate your intention in flight best sit in the control tower and observe, and not fly with this squadron at all.

In the normal course of events we'd expect a certain explanation, a certain coaching, a justification  to go with what we'd only know to perceive of as arrogance ... until we distinguish and align with the dictatorship of gravity. But when sailing hurricane churned stormy seas, when riding the stagecoach through hostile territory, when embarking on the cowboys' last roundup, when piloting F15 Strike Eagles in split second wing tip to wing tip formation, by the time it's given the moment's lost.

I've learned some of the things which I'm required to take on if I'm to sail battened down with you. If I agree  to them I get to be a cabin boy. If I own  them I get to be the chief  officer. The measure of my life when I'm gone will be what I leave as a result of serving you, and I would  like to leave something when I'm gone. But monuments  aren't what I have in mind. I'd like to leave ease. I'd like to leave workability. I'd like to leave possibility. I'd like to leave obviousness. It's obvious to me there's nothing to do but serve you: true Self, common Good. That's all there is to do. That's all that's worthwhile. Everything else, all other pursuits are meaningless. All there is for me to do is stow the freight, secure the cargo, batten down the hatches and set sail with you.



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