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




Can Simply Being Alive Be Enough?

BR Cohn Winery, Valley Of The Moon, Sonoma, California, USA

February 29, 2020



This essay, Can Simply Being Alive Be Enough?, is the companion piece to Being Who You Are As Enough.



He's a nice enough guy, I thought. We're not close (actually "We're not close yet"  may be a better way of saying that, only because we're just not around each other often enough to be close) yet based on the few occasions we've talked so far, I can tell there's a potential for friendship and depth. "So, what do you do?"  he asked.

Now I've heard that question many, many times before (who hasn't?), often enough to know what it really  reaches for. Behind the question "What do you do?" (ie its translation  if you will) is more or less "What do you do for a living?"  which really means "What do you do to make enough money to survive?". And that's just what's on the surface of it. It's not the full story. The full story is there's something else in there ie there's another implied, unasked question which goes deeper than "What do you do for a living?". And it's the unasked, deeper question I elected to respond to. It's true I could have responded to his question exactly as he asked it. But that would have kept us mired in the business as usual  humdrum which threatens to drown all of us in the deluge of trivial chit-chat which surrounds the beingsphere.

People "do" what they do, whatever it is. That much is clear. To be sure, what we "do" we do to make a living. And for the most part, we tell the truth about that. What we don't always tell the truth about, is when we do it in order to avoid the experience of simply being alive. It's poignant that the experience of being a human being, alive, confronting the universe, is an experience we not only don't readily have access to, but also don't let in. We seek to avoid it ie to shield ourselves from it.

So instead, I responded "What do I do?  You mean what do I do to avoid the experience of simply being alive?". That's the real question. That's what's behind "What do you do?". And when the truth is told, the answer to the question "What do you do to avoid the experience of being alive?" has morphed to include what we do for a living, and what we do to make enough money to survive. Then it cuts through the pretense and goes much  deeper than that. Here's what risks making what we do for a living, and what we do to make enough money to survive, inauthentic: it's that what we're thrown  to do behind it all, is to avoid the experience of being alive.

You see it on peoples' faces when we gather to socialize, speak, exchange, and interact. It's a silent plea: "Do you  know what to do to avoid the experience of being alive?". "No. Do you?". "No. Do you  know?". "No. Do you?". "No. Do you know?". "No. Do you?". "Do you?". "Do you?". It's rampant. And it's everywhere. Really.

So I said to him "If you dig deep into what runs us, we have it that the experience of simply being alive, could never be enough. No, it's more than that. It's for most of us, we're certain  that for the experience of being alive to be enough, we'd be required to add  something on to it. But just for a moment, imagine the experience of being alive, was enough - with nothing else added. If the experience of simply being alive was enough, it would prompt us to re-evaluate everything  we do. It would transform what we do for a living. It would transform what we do to make enough money to survive. And when we don't let that in, the experience of being alive is seemingly unsatisfying. That being so (if we tell the truth about it), we do most of what we "do" to avoid the experience of being alive. It's worth considering this: can simply being alive be enough?  Well, can it? If (and that's the big "if"  right there) simply being alive was enough, it would transform everything we do. Everything.".

The ordinary mired business as usual humdrum chit-chat of "What do you do?" was pierced - as if by a hot needle pricking a red balloon. I looked over at him. I could tell he'd met my first measure: he wasn't rolling his eyes. He'd remained inquisitively in the conversation. He was interested. He was present. That being so, so was I.



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