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

Cleaning Up The Planet One Acre At A Time

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 16, 2018

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who contributed material for this conversation.

Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

9:41:02am Sunday January 28, 2018
"Dad In His Natural Habitat"
Alston Park in the hills of Napa Valley's west wall, is one of my favorite places to hike by ... my ... Self. And it's been an ongoing project of mine for a while now, to clean this place up - all 157 acres of it. In this project, my priorities are clearly defined. I actually don't hike in Alston Park in order to clean it up: I hike in Alston Park in order to hike in Alston Park  ... and ... while I'm hiking here, I clean it up. That means secondarily, my intention is to clean the place up. Primarily, my intention is to simply be  here.

The best time to hike is at sunrise ie at daybreak as the morning begins. Hiking fulfills another intention of mine as well: I include it in my fitness regimen, along with swimming, running, and weight training. Watching the sunrise from Alston Park's emerald hills is not merely a good way to begin the day: it's a great  way to begin to the day. It's a special, quiet time to generate what I want to write next, in peace.

To fulfill my secondary intention when I hike there, I pick up trash as I walk its trails. I bring a bag with me for this purpose. I hike along a different trail each time I'm here. I'll pick up trash from the trail I'm on. If I have to, I'll even push my way into dense, thorny foliage to retrieve trash people have thrown there. What's my opinion of people who throw trash deep into the bushes of a pristine park? Dunt esk!  Sometimes the bag is full when I'm done with my hike. Sometimes there are only a few pieces in it.

On a recent hike as I rounded a bend in a trail, I let out an audible groan: "Oh no, no ...". The grassy knoll I happened upon, was strewn  with empty beer bottles (at least a few six-packs worth) and burger wrappings. My bag wasn't big enough. So I turned my jacket inside-out, then laid it inside-down on the ground, making a sack, and filled it completely with trash. That way, I reasoned there should be a tolerable trade-off between having a bit of mud on the inside of my jacket (from the ground), and all the trash marks on its outside (from the trash wrapped in it): ultimately it would be easier to clean - as proved to be the case later when I got home.

On another occasion while walking along one of Alston Park's lesser known trails, I came across an illegal campsite where people had left a blanket and (who would ever have guessed?) empty beer bottles and more trash. I folded the blanket in quarters, grabbing its corners to make another even bigger sack. It nearly wasn't big enough. I carried all the trash in the "sack" slung over my shoulder, down to the receptacles in the parking lot.

Today when I completed my hike (and I've now traversed all the trails in the park - today's was the last one left for me to complete), I had no trash with me in my bag: there was none to be found. Mission accomplished.

It's incorrigible to me that people love this place so much that they want to lug six-packs of beer all the way to the top of its pristine hills to enjoy along with its incredible sunset views ... yet disrespect it enough to leave their empties littered on the ground when they're done. People being the way they are, will discard more empty bottles in this pristine place. They'll leave more trash. And in due course, I'll clean it up. But until then, I've cleaned up Alston Park completely as of right now.

If we each clean up one acre of the planet every day without being asked to do so, without being told to do so, our physical universe would become unrecognizable (ie in the best way imaginable). Something magical will become possible when the space is clear. In this clear space, something magical, something miraculous  will happen. And in case you're wondering to what I'm referring when I suggest something magical, something miraculous will happen in this clear space, it's no mystery. It's this: in this clear space, we may just get to discover who we really are.

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