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


Coin Of The Realm

Muir Beach, California, USA

February 21, 2009



I am indebted to Jean Shimabuku who inspired this conversation.



Susan B Anthony Dollar
Susan B Anthony Dollar courtesy coins.thefuntimesguide.com
Heads
It's neither things being the way you'd like them to be, nor is it things not  being the way you'd like them not  to be which determines whether your life is satisfying. Really!  If you tell the truth about it, your life isn't any more satisfying on sunny days than it is on rainy days. The way you'd like things to be (or not) has no bearing on whether your life is satisfying. None.

It's neither having what you want, nor not having what you don't  want, which creates fulfillment for you. William Randolph Hearst at one time was the sole purchaser of more than thirty percent  of all the art work entering the United States of America. He could have (and could afford  to have) anything and everything he wanted to fuel his self-professed addiction  to collecting art. Yet his amassing anything and everything he wanted and still wanting more, eloquently emphasizes having too much is never enough  (as David Bowie may have said).

It's neither a positive  outlook nor a negative  outlook which makes a difference in the circumstances of your life. Being all things to all people  fails as a strategy for making a lasting difference, just as surely as the "No more Mr Nice Guy!"  strategy fails. Whether you have a positive outlook or a negative outlook, things turn out the way they turn out anyway. If you walk with the paupers in the Fiji Islands, Islands, you'll notice waaay  more smiling faces than on the London underground or on the New York subway or on the Chicago "EL". A positive outlook doesn't improve impoverished circumstances. A negative outlook doesn't reflect impoverished circumstances.

Each of these dichotomies  are merely opposite sides of the same coin.

If you trade in this coin, it really doesn't matter which side  of the coin you trade in. It's the same coin.
Werner Erhard distinguishes three additional classic dichotomies on one side of which, in the normal course of events, human beings place more value than on the other. They are

1)  wanting to have more, avoiding having less
2)  wanting to do better, avoiding doing worse
3)  wanting to be different, avoiding being the same

Ironically, it's not better to have more and worse to have less. It's not better to be different and worse to be the same. It's not even better to do better  and worse to do worse. If yours is the world of Zen minimalism in art, painting, poetry, architecture, and design, it's better to have less  and worse to have more. If you're a player on a team, it's better being the same  and worse being different. And if you've ever discussed tax write offs  with a financier, you already know a tax write off is better when it does worse, and it's worse  when it does better.

Be all that as it may, our propensity, our thrown-ness deems it better when things are the way we'd like them to be, better when we have what we want, better being positive, better to have more, better to do better, better to be different. It's the coin of the realm  of being human. It's the currency in which we all deal. It's ordinary and normal and internationally widespread to deal in this currency, to trade in this market. This currency is deployed by agreement by people everywhere.

But here's the big  problem with this currency: there's a gorilla in the room. It's a gorilla we all know is here yet no one wants to be the first to confront or even to acknowledge. The big problem with this currency is the coin has two sides, and we assign value to only one side  of the coin.

We've not only forgotten the coin has value regardless of which side is presented - it's more than that. It's we've forgotten it's we  who assigned value to only one side of the coin in the first place. We've forgotten the coin is only a symbol for trade, only a token, only a representation. It's we who assigned to it whatever value it has, then we forgot we did that. Now the coin of the realm appears to have value in and of itself  (that's a problem right there) ... AND  ... it appears to have value on only one side  (clearly that's the other even more pernicious problem).

Once you've reclaimed your authorship of the value you've assigned to this currency, once you reclaim it's you  who made up it's better when things are the way we'd like them to be, it's you  who made up it's better when we have what we want, it's you  who made up it's better being positive, it's you  who made up it's better to have more, it's you  who made up it's better to do better, it's you  who made up it's better to be different, then life can show up whole and complete, exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't.

It's neither better nor worse  when things are the way we'd like them to be. It's neither better nor worse  when we have what we want. It's neither better nor worse  being positive. It's neither better nor worse  to have more. It's neither better nor worse  to do better. It's neither better nor worse  to be different.

It's OK the way it is. Really!



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