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


Changing Ways

Hilton Pacific Ballroom, Costa Mesa, California, USA

October 25, 2008



"Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thief." ... ancient nursery rhyme, circa 1696

"I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king." ... Frank Sinatra, 1966

This essay, Changing Ways, was written at the same time as


In my life I've undergone many changes. I've changed many times. There've been times I've wanted to change and did. There've been times I've wanted to change and didn't, or couldn't. There've been times I've not wanted to change but changed anyway in spite of myself. Yet looking back, if I tell the truth about it, when I've changed I changed because I changed. That's the truth, really. I haven't always changed when I wanted  to change. If I tell the truth about it, when I've changed neither has there been much choice in the matter. Mostly when I've changed there's been even less intentionality. I'd go to bed at night one kind of person. When I woke up in the morning, I was another kind of person. So I'd be that other kind of person, at least for a while.

In the end, what it's come down to is this: I've changed when I've changed and I've not changed when I've not changed. Wanting to change and intending to change hasn't always brought on change. When I get that, it's wryly disconcerting.

I may just as well have gone to bed at night wondering "Who will I be tomorrow?" and then, come morning, I'd find out. And that's who I'd be ... until I changed again. If you asked me "Who are you?", I may have answered "Well ... I knew who I was when I woke up this morning, but think I've changed many times since then" (as Alice in Wonderland may have said).

Alice may have been on to something here. She may even have a point. But what I eventually figured out is she doesn't have responsibility. And, when I changed in the way I changed ie when I changed in the way Alice changed, neither did I. Eventually I figured that out too.

It's a confront, really, to look at my life and to notice (and unflinchingly  tell the truth about) how much of it simply turned out  the way it turned out regardless  of me wanting it to turn out the way it turned out or not  wanting it to turn out the way it turned out ie wanting it to turn out some other way. It's a confront, really, to look at my life and to notice how many times I've changed regardless  of wanting to change or not  wanting to change. I'm confronted by how automatic  it all is. I'm confronted both by noticing I've not taken responsibility for it, as well as by noticing I seem to have no power  over its automaticity.

It's a step you have to take: if you're going to take charge  of your life, I mean really  take charge of your own life, you first have to confront and reconcile exactly  how much of it's totally on automatic. Keep in mind, to change ie to become someone else, garnishes no kudos. If I do something, I'll change. If I do nothing, I'll change. It's automatic. I've changed? You've changed? So what?!  Everything changes, and so do you, and so do and I. Change is the only constant.

The first level  at which the game starts to get interesting is when I intend to change when I'm changing. When I take responsibility  for changing when I'm changing, that's when the game starts to get creative - that's the first time the possibility of ease and mastery  shows up. The canoe I'm sitting in seems bound for the rapids anyway. I can sit here, exactly where I am, and be swept over the falls, possibly inserted  into a rock ... OR  ... noticing the coming changes, I can dip my paddle into the river just so, thereby facilitating ease and mastery through the inexorably rushing maelstroms  ahead.

Whatever changes for me when I change - my identity  ie whatever I identify with, my considerations  ie whatever I consider myself to be, my ego ie whatever I do to survive  life and it's imposition, my belief system  ie whatever I believe to be true about life, my intellect  ie that which I hold fast to in response to the tyranny of the mind, even the way I earn a living, shaped as it is largely (again, if I tell the truth about it) by whatever's expected  of me, by whatever's the right thing to do  - none of that's really who I am. None of that which simply changes because it changes  is really who I am.

What (and, to a certain extent, who) I've been, where  I've been, what I've changed from, what I've changed into and when  isn't the topic of this conversation, although since I'm asked about my changes from time to time, I've documented a good many of them. The purpose of this documentation, the purpose of this autobiography, if you will, isn't to tell my story. I'm suspicious of all stories: yours, others, and my own - especially  my own. The purpose of documenting my life's changes, my changing ways, is this: since the truth is going to be told anyway, I want to support it being told accurately.

Secondarily, I'm called to master coming changes by dipping my paddle into the river just so  and thereby facilitating ease and mastery through the inexorably rushing maelstroms  ahead. Indeed that's useful to do: it ensures I won't get inserted into a rock. Primarily, I'm called to report on, to share  my changing ways not because there's any particular merit in telling my story, certainly not because there's anything more special about my particular story than anyone else's particular story - yours, for example. Rather, I'm called to share my changing ways as a vehicle for telling the truth about what happened  - no more than that, no less than that. It's in the telling of the plain truth about what happened, with nothing added, with nothing taken away, with no embellishing and no drama that who I really am like a possibility  can emerge, the changeless being endowed with changing ways.



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