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


Breakfast With The Master IV:

Parental Care

San Francisco, California, USA

May 13, 2016



This essay, Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care, is the first in the fourth trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care
  2. Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It
  3. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
in that order.
The first trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Conversation With A Laser
  2. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  3. Secret Agent
in that order.
The second trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  3. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open
in that order.
The third trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Raw Power
  2. It Works Better As A Possibility
  3. Magic At Heart
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Whatever Works
  2. Yesterday's Transformation
  3. Billions And Billions Of Stars
in that order.
This essay, Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care, is also the twelfth in a group of thirteen on Parents: I am indebted to my sister Anthea Sarah Platt Haupt who contributed material for this conversation.



Parents  investing time and energy feeding and protecting (ie caring for) their children, is what parental  care* typically refers to.

Now if there's one thing these conversations aren't, it's typical. Months ahead he's laid out topics for them. It's not typical to lay out topics for breakfast conversations, and it's certainly not typical to lay them out months ahead. But there's nothing typical about him either. One of the topics he's laid out is providing for aging parents.

The first part ie the opening salvo  (if you will) of this conversation over fried eggs, an omelet, toast and jam, and coffee, ends very quickly. We both agree (having already determined the same thing independent of one another) that if money were no object  (and that's a big "if"  for most people, yes?), we'd provide nothing but the very best care for our aging parents. In other words, the parental care in this  breakfast conversation a-typically refers to children  caring for their aging parents.

My life works. It didn't always. But it does now. On all levels. Particularly financially. By that I don't mean I'm a multi-millionaire financially. By that I do mean I'm all of prudent, pragmatic, careful, and smart financially. I live within my means. I spend less than I earn. I invest relentlessly. I've discovered it's possible to completely reset my financial compass to be consistent with a fraction of my past income, and still live a life that works really, really well financially. It's actually a great exercise. In the process, I found out very quickly what's important materially, and what's not. What also works is being clear about where, what, and who  the source of the quality of my life really is (Thank You Werner!) - surprise, surprise: it doesn't come in euros or in dollars (albeit that's an illusion we hold on to and cherish so dearly).

It so easy to tell the whole truth with him, holding back nothing. Setting my financial viability aside for the purposes of this conversation, I share with him I'm not in the "money's no object" league. And so the next part of our conversation traverses the regret, the sadness, even the guilt  (it's true: there's guilt ...) that I'm unable to send a blank check so that my aging mother (my father is no longer with us) can have the best of all care as she approaches ninety.

Left to right clockwise:

My mother Andee, her daughter my sister
Anthea, Anthea's daughter my niece Judith,
Judith's daughter my great niece

Cape Town, South Africa

Sunday May 15, 2016
Four generations of Platt women
I let him know this isn't merely gratuitous commentary. For me this is a critical insight in getting straight about what's possible for atypical parental care: confronting my background of regret, sadness, and guilt that I haven't (indeed that I couldn't)  provide more, and provide more sooner. I must  confront it now.

So we confront it - he and I together. And now it's confronted. It's done. We've acknowledged it's there. We've moved on to the next thing. And now  what can be done? And now  where can financial support come from? These are the same questions I've asked for a long time, yet now I have a whole new, clear, open vista at which to look.

You've probably already noticed this yourself: we human beings don't respond well in a crisis. When I'm in crisis / threat mode, that's not when I'm thinking my clearest. The time to start considering financial options for aging parents is now before  it becomes a crisis. I notice what I'm afraid of finding out is I can't provide all the support she needs. Where will the resources come from to provide financial support?

Perhaps the first step is to determine what resources aging parents have, and to arrange to manage them, should they become unable to. In this regard, ensuring someone close to them is granted durable power of attorney  (allowing them to make legal decisions on their behalf) and durable power of attorney for health care  (allowing them to make medical  decisions on their behalf) is essential.

There are other matters he zeroes in on like a laser, which I've already considered and am now confronting again and re-evaluating. For example, as for decisions regarding the actual day-to-day provision of care itself, is it a better option to move aging parents into a live-in care facility? Or is it a better option for them to stay in their own home and opt for a full time caregiver instead? It's a choice between both compassion as well as what's affordable. Also (and arguably weighted with high importance), what do they  want? What are their wishes, their preferences in the matter? Is it possible (and practical) to provide them with what they want? And if it isn't possible or practical, that must also be confronted - not from guilt but from what's so. Guilty feelings have no bearing here whatsoever. They only get in the way.

Then there's also what (if anything) government and / or community programs offer for old age care. You may not know what they are. You'll need to find out how to get them. Are they getting all the money due to them now? If not, how do you intervene and get it for them? Someone must. In my mother's case, it wasn't me as I live in these United States. However my sister Anthea and my brother Brandon live closer to her in South Africa, and were in a better position to intervene on her behalf. They were also the ones to determine she'll move into the live-in care facility in which she now resides, rather than remain in her own home (the latter would have been her preference - until it became obvious to everyone it would have been equally impractical).

The next concern we embark on (he's finished his eggs now and has begun his second cup of coffee - I'm still nibbling at my omelet) following the exploration of her options, is how much I  can afford. It's essential I tell him the truth about this. Telling him the truth about what I can afford (rather than what I would like  to afford - remember that blank check  scenario?) takes all the guilt out of it. I listen to him as the waitress offers more coffee which we both decline, and I realize I'm now in a position to afford more than I could when I first started considering this eventuality. I resolve to up the ante  of my contribution, and I promise to make a monthly contribution from now on. In my mind's eye, I can already see myself in a conversation with my bank manager, figuring out the best way to make this happen.

That's  a breakthrough for me in parental care ie it's the  breakthrough for me in this a-typical  parental care. And our time is up. He stands up to leave. We embrace. It's a mano a mano  bear hug, and yet there's considerable mutual tenderness in it. You can't quantify this kind of appreciation. This guy has personally trained nearly half a million people  in forty five years. In terms of the total number of peoples' lives he's impacted  both directly and indirectly, it's probably close to half a billion.

After he's gone I stay a while, sipping coffee, and sorting, ordering, and cleaning up the notes I took while we were speaking, and scheduling the next Breakfast With The Master conversation exactly one year from today. Then I pay our bill, leaving Betsy our waitress with the beautiful smile, an appropriate tip, and set out down the Park Presidio  freeway and on over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on my way back home to the wine country  in the north Bay Area where I live.

The next morning early before dawn, I awake unassisted by an alarm, completely relaxed and refreshed, into a totally new quiet, rich space.


*   What parental care typically refers to - from encyclopedia.com:
<quote>
Parental Care
Any behavior pattern in which a parent invests time or energy in feeding and protecting its offspring. Parental care is a form of altruism since this type of behavior involves increasing the fitness of the offspring at the expense of the parents. The degree of parental care differs widely. For example, most species of fish show little or no parental care, while humans and many other mammals care for their offspring until they reach adolescence.
<unquote>


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