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


Bookends II:

Times I'm Not

Platt Park, Denver, Colorado, USA

April 25, 2023

"Life is a game.
 In order to have a game, something has to be more important than something else.
 If what already is, is more important than what isn't, the game is over.
 So life is a game in which what isn't is more important than what is.
 Let the good times roll."
"The truth believed is a lie."
"What I have is a place to stand. Not the right place, for I do not pretend to know what is right even for myself, let alone others, but a place I am willing to try out to see if it leaves me as a clearing where the truth can more powerfully go to work."
 fleshing out his "I am committed to being a space where the truth can go to work" answer to Laurence Platt's question "Who are you like a possibility, like a commitment?" in Questions For A Friend III
"The tree leaves, the ocean waves, the universe peoples."
 ... Alan W ("Wilson") Watts, deploying plural nouns "leaves", "waves", and "peoples" as third-person verbs
This essay, Bookends II: Times I'm Not, is the one thousand seven hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the companion piece to It is also the third in a trilogy written in Platt Park, April 2023: The trilogy written in Platt Park, April 2023 is the sequel to My Baby Girl, Now A Bride.

I am indebted to Alan W ("Wilson") Watts who inspired this conversation.

Before I was born, I wasn't. Then I was born, and I was. And I fully expect to die (ie to not be) some time in the next twenty or thirty years or so (to be sure, nobody will be more surprised than me if I don't) and then I won't be. Again. Like that, the times I'm not, are the bookends of my life. In other words, my life is the time I am, book-ended by the times I'm not (or so it seems). The times I'm not, are: 1) the time I wasn't, and 2) the time I'll not be (again).

It's in inquiring into / telling the truth about these bookends of my life ie it's in inquiring into the times I'm not, that I'll gain the greatest sense of who I am - or at least the greatest sense of who I might be. I say "might be" prudently because (I really want you to get this) "The truth believed is a lie.". Really it is.

Look: it's noble to tell the truth. But what's even more important than noble, is it's pragmatic  to tell the truth. "Pragmatic" means it just plain works. And when it comes to telling the truth pragmatically and unflinchingly  about whether something is true or not, I assert there are not two but three options. The first option is something's true. The second option is it's not true ie it's false. And the third option? The third option is the often denigrated "I don't know.".

Now I myself am quite comfortable with "I don't know.". I don't have  to know, when I don't know. When we have to know when we don't know, we veer off into constructing belief systems to fill the uncertainty of "I don't know.". Consider that we truly miss the entire possibility of who we are, when we fill the uncertainty of "I don't know" with a belief system. When we don't know, instead of being with "I don't know", we veer off into constructing a belief system that assuages the disconcerting nature of "I don't know.". What that does is kill off our access to possibility (belief systems, set in stone, kill off possibility).

As I contemplate the bookends of my life ie as I inquire into what it was like when I wasn't, and then inquire into what it will be like when I'm not (again), I'm perfectly OK with it if all I can authentically come up with is "I don't know". I'm not driven to come up with an irrefutable answer or answers (at best) and / or an explanation or explanations (at least) and / or a belief system to provide a semblance of certainty (at worst). Both bookends of my life invite me to hang out with "I don't know" from time to time (to be sure, both bookends of my life are times I'm not, and when I'm not, how can I possibly know?).

But an even bigger, even more useful and more pragmatic inquiry for me isn't into what it was like when I wasn't, or what it'll be like when I'm not (again). Rather, it's "Who am I now  that's book-ended by the times I'm not?". Asked from a slightly different angle, the bigger, more useful inquiry for me is "What  is it that's book-ended by the times I'm not, that gives my life ie that gives who I am?" (asked this way, it's the times I'm not that give access to who I am).

Without requiring a belief system, what this inquiry reveals is the space, the context  in which the world and the events of my life including my experience, show up. That's what came into being when I was born / stops being when I die. It's what's bookended by the times I'm not. That's my unflinching answer. But is it the truth?  I don't know. And I'm OK with that. I'm OK with "I don't know.". From "I don't know" I can invent a host of possibilities for this inquiry.

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