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

Complaint And The Blind Man

Napa, California, USA

June 2, 2019

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." ... Helen Keller

This essay, Complaint And The Blind Man, is the companion piece to Complaint And The Blind Men.

I am indebted to James "Jim" Krishnananda and to Jack Roger who inspired this conversation.

If you're familiar with my body of work, you'll know I've written this particular experience before. The first time was in the similarly titled Complaint And The Blind Men  (it was plural originally). It showcased my first ideas on mastering the unthinkable if or when it shows up in life. My intention has always been to write something new in each essay. Yet some experiences are so poignant as to want revisiting. With that said, here's a threefold sub-text  in both "... Blind Men"  and "... Blind Man": 

 1)  the question "What qualifies exactly as an example of the 'unthinkable'?";
 2)  the realization of degree  ie that which is unthinkable for one, may be transformed for another;
 3)  the access to confronting and mastering the unthinkable if it shows up in our lives.

I've learned a great deal about transforming situations in my own life about which I complain, by watching other people managing unthinkable situations (ie situations with a far greater degree of unworkability than those meagre ones about which I complain), indeed by watching them mastering  them. For example, being born with perfectly good eyesight, and then becoming blind later on in life, is an example of one such unthinkable situation. It speaks to our adaptability as human beings as well as to our heroism, that we have the power to thrive in the world even without what you and I often take for granted: our sense of sight. Living without sight becomes a metaphor for living with any situation which would make day-to-day living daunting, not to mention justifiably complaint-worthy.

But it's more than that actually. It's much more. It's more than merely living  without the sense of sight and / or without that which which would make day-to-day living daunting ordinarily. Contemplating what's called for to master living without the sense of sight, is a vehicle for contemplating what's possible for mastering any  such unthinkable eventuality. More importantly, it's a vehicle for looking at what are in comparison, way less inconvenient situations about which we're thrown to complain, and about which in comparison there's really very little to complain. Look: if people can live without sight (and many not only live without sight but thrive  without it) then is there really any inconvenient situation, no matter how unworkable it may appear to be, in which there isn't the possibility of being fully alive? And if so, what's the access to mastering that which once elicited nothing but complaint? Because whatever it is, it's that  which has the power to transform the unthinkable.

I've gained more insight into all of the above through conversations with a friend who, once visually unencumbered, now walks with dark glasses and a cane. He had an eye test, a routine examination although he had 20/20  vision. After his appointment, the ophthalmologist sat down and said (I'm paraphrasing what was relayed to me ... but not by much) "Look: you have an eye disease which is widespread and for which there's no known cure, your vision will progressively degrade until you're totally blind, there's nothing we can do for you, have a good day" - just ... like ... that. Now that's  unthinkable - in so many ways we don't have time to unpack it all.

When he removes his dark glasses, there's no sign he can't see (you can't tell). What's interesting is there's no indication in his conversation  either (unless you ask pointed questions). He tells me he's accepted being blind. That's the key!  Being angry about it (which he was - at first) is ineffective and if continued, he says, would have led to him imploding. He shares as soon as he surrendered to the diagnosis and began to take responsibility for it and prepare for it, he got his life back. Then he stands up and with his cane, tap-taps his way down a flight of stairs. I'm inspired. Watching him, I invent the possibility of being accepting. It vanquishes complaint.

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