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


Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

January 22, 2009



This essay, Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural, is the prequel to the fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.

It is the companion piece to It is also the fifth in an open group Visits With A Friend Prequels:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Eye Of The Needle
  3. Secret Service
  4. Everyone Loves You
  5. Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural
  6. View From A Fallow Wheatfield
  7. Flying
  8. Three Stairs At A Time
  9. Something Fierce, Something Wonderful
  10. Serving High
  11. Simple But Not Easy
  12. A Request Asked Harder
in that order.

It was written at the same time as


The sequence accelerates. The last window of opportunity barely clicks closed as the latch starts moving again, inexorably opening the next one. I'm no stranger to this sudden onrush of anticipation.

<aside>
Werner Erhard asserts we're convinced if we peel back the layers of our lives like an onion, if we peel back one layer, then we peel back another layer, and then we keep on peeling back layers and layers all the way down to the last  layer, we're convinced we'll get to a core, we're sure there's a kernel  in there, and we're totally convinced that core, that kernel is what gives meaning  to our lives. We're totally convinced that core, that kernel is in fact the substance  of our lives.

But there isn't a core. There isn't a kernel. When you peel back the last layer of the onion, there's nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing. And that's who we really are. If you can stop making that mean  something, it's an opportunity for enormous  freedom.


<un-aside>

When I'm close up with you, when you and I are face to face, that's when there's an opportunity for you to be who you really are with me, that's when there's an opportunity for me to be who I really am with you, for you and I to be unfettered, for you and I to be let loose, for you and I to be who we really  are, larger than life and twice as natural.

I grew up like I think most people grow up. I don't mean I grew up like most people grow up economically. I didn't grow up poor (neither did I grow up super-rich). "Most" people, if generalities can be made incorporating the entire population of the world, grow up poor. I don't mean I grew up like most people grow up geographically. The majority of people in the world obviously grow up in locations around world where I didn't  grow up. I don't mean I grew up like most people grow up politically. I grew up in the repressive apartheid  regime in South Africa. I was living there when Nelson Mandela was jailed. I also happened to be there visiting on the day he was released. Some regimes are even more repressive than South Africa's was when I grew up there. Many are less.

<aside>

To talk about the apartheid  era South African regime as repressive  may indeed be true for the many people who were displaced, whose lives were interrupted in one way or another by apartheid.

But the trouble with adding a label  (even though we may consider it to be true) to "what happened", the trap  in talking about the apartheid  era South African regime as repressive  is that it locks it in place that way  in our listening. In order to be free of the past, in order to move on, try on considering "what happened" as simply what's so  without adding meaning and significance to it, without glorifying  it, without embellishing it.

Re-speaking with rigor, rather than saying "the apartheid era South African regime was repressive", say "the apartheid era South African regime was the apartheid era South African regime".


<un-aside>

So when I say I grew up like I think "most" people grew up, I need to qualify what I'm saying because clearly there are many ways in which I grew up which are completely different  than the way "most" people grew up.

When I say I grew up like I think most people grew up, I'm speaking about the way I conceptualized  the world as I grew up. At some point growing up I differentiated  myself from the world, conceptualizing myself as a separate human being. Yet I related to myself in the world more accurately as a human animal, a kind of hairless ape  (as Desmond Morris may have said), an ape who speaks English, a smart ape, an evolved  ape, ... but an ape nonetheless. I grew up conceptualizing the world as "out there". I grew up conceptualizing myself as an intelligent kind of ape in  the world - the world, in turn, was outside  me, in my conceptualization of it.

The way I conceptualized myself (and therefore all human beings too) defined how I viewed life itself. I conceptualized human beings ie human animals  to be much smaller  than life. No, it was more than that actually. I knew human beings were much smaller than life. I also knew human beings fit into  life like pieces fit into a jigsaw puzzle, each piece contributing to the whole. That, by the way, is also what I knew to be natural  - that the entire puzzle is fulfilled, so to speak, by each piece. The idea of any one piece  being fulfilled, so to speak, by itself  outside of the whole puzzle, would not have been natural ... would not have been natural, that is, in the way I conceptualized life when I grew up.

I grew up thinking everyone, when they grow up, conceptualizes life in approximately this way ie in the same way I conceptualized life when I grew up. And that's what I mean when I say "I grew up like I think most people grow up" - not economically, not geographically, not politically, but rather conceptually.

Somehow, all that drops away around you. Somehow, around you all that is no longer useful. Somehow, around you there's a contextual shift. Around you it's not useful to conceptualize human beings as smaller than life. Around you it's not useful to conceptualize human beings fitting into life like pieces fitting into a jigsaw puzzle. Around you, who human beings really are, who you and I  really are, is the context  for life itself. Around you, who human beings really are, who you and I  really are, is the space  in which life itself can show up. When the truth is told, who human beings really are, who you and I  really are is larger  than life.

And if, in my old  outdated way of conceptualizing the world and everything in it, I thought of myself fitting into life in which I and everything else  which exists in life is natural, then around you when I get who human beings really are, when I get who you and I  really are, I get we're not only larger than life but we're twice  as natural also.

When the last layer of the onion is transcended, there's bad news  and there's good news.

The bad  news is there's no core, there's no kernel, there's no meaning, and there's no substance. It's shocking, it's ghastly, it's horrifying ... but only (I see after I've calmed down) because I was so heavily invested  in there being a core, in there being a kernel, in there being meaning, in there being substance. I had it that there's gotta be  a core, there's gotta be a kernel, there's gotta be meaning, there's gotta be substance. There's none. I get it now. Around you I get  it!

The good  news is there's no core, there's no kernel, there's no meaning, and there's no substance  ... therefore I'm free! I'm free to create!  The good news is we're  free. We're free to create!

The kind of freedom I'm speaking about isn't the freedom to break the rules. It's not the freedom to drive through red stop lights. It's not the freedom to not pay taxes. It's not the freedom to steal. The kind of freedom I'm speaking about is the freedom to invent a life I love to live, the freedom to invent a powerful  life I love to live.

I was born to be with you this way. I love being with you this way: close up, face to face, larger than life, and twice as natural.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2009 through 2016 Permission