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


Being Who You Are As Enough

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

December 29, 2016



"All discoveries happen from 'I don't know'." ... Kyle Maynard, first quadruple amputee to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro without prosthetics

This essay, Being Who You Are As Enough, is the companion piece to On The Edge Of Serenity.




I like him. He's authentic. His situation wasn't unlike the one many of us are finding ourselves in around about now. Indeed I'll bet you good money it wasn't unlike the one all  of us will find ourselves in, more sooner than later. It certainly wasn't unlike mine, and it probably isn't unlike yours. And if it's not the way yours is now, then it's the way yours will be soon. So what is it exactly, this human-sounding  situation that all of us will invariably find ourselves in, more sooner than later?

At some point, our focus on what our lives are going to be about, will shift. Arguably that's a maybe for many things. For this one, it's a slam dunk  absolute certainty. Initially, we're pre-occupied with what we need to do to build and sustain our lives, for ourselves and / or for our families. We're driven by what we have  to do. The future's wide open. But then it becomes blindingly, unavoidably, unrelentingly  obvious we only have so many years of life left. It may be five years. It may be twenty. Some of us will appreciate this with fifty years or more to go. However long it is, what jumped out of the shadows and confronted him ie grabbed him by the throat (so to speak) is that soon all this will be over, and the question flooding over him like an Indonesian tsunami, was "To what should I allocate the rest of my time?".

That's where he was at. That's what he was confronting. And that's the question he was asking. I suggested "Unless you distinguish its context, I don't think that's an inquiry worth engaging in", to which he (sounding surprised) asked "Why not? Wait a moment: what do you mean  by 'unless you distinguish its context' Laurence?".

I shared that I thought a more potent question to ask would be "What does allocating my time, accomplish?", to which he responded almost immediately, saying "It gives meaning to my life.". I loved his honesty. I said "Exactly, and you could also say 'It gives me something to do', yes?". "Yes" he said, "it does.". I asked him what it would be like if he didn't have to do anything - to be specific, if he didn't add on  anything to do (I intended this to be the thin edge of a shim to drive an opening into a conversation we find hard to have: a conversation about how much of what we do, is just in order to avoid experiencing life's emptiness and meaninglessness).

If our fundamental experience of being alive isn't enough, if we can't simply be  with life's emptiness and meaninglessness, then we're likely to do whatever we do on top of that experience, simply in order to hide ie to mask ie to avoid  the pressing, ongoing experience of it isn't enough. That says whatever we do, no matter how noble, is merely avoidance ie it's avoiding the raw experience of being alive. "Is there any other option?" he wondered (he asked it rhetorically - as if there really is no other option). "Yes" I said, "there is: what about doing whatever you do, while being who you are as enough, instead of doing whatever you do as compensation for  ie in order to avoid experiencing being who you are as not enough? That's the other option. If you don't know how to access that, it's available for you to discover.".

Now I grant you there's some untraditional grammar in those sentences. But they're getable. And he did get it - that I could tell. It wasn't anything he'd inquired into before. It turned his inquiry around through one hundred and eighty degrees, shifting his focus from "To what should I allocate the rest of my time?" to "Is it possible to experience being who I am as enough?". The light went on. The difference the latter would make to his future plans was instantly and abundantly, blazingly  clear.

"I kinda sorta  get what you mean by 'being who I am as enough'" he smiled, "but I gotta know: where did you  get that from?". "Me? I got it being around Werner" I said. "Who's Werner?" he asked. "A friend of mine" I said, writing my Conversations For Transformation website's URL  on a yellow Post-it  note, then giving it to him.



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© Laurence Platt - 2016, 2017 Permission