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


Completing Cape Town, February 2015

Trefethen Family Vineyards, Oak Knoll Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

March 6, 2015

"Suppose you had no past. That would be an interesting place to be in."  ... 
This essay, Completing Cape Town, February 2015, is the seventh in an octology on Completion: It is also the sequel to a group of four written in Cape Town, February 2015:
  1. South Africa Leadership
  2. Wuudhu
  3. Rite De Passage
  4. The Girl Who Became A Tree
in that order.




At home in the amazing Cowboy Cottage here in the Napa Valley in California's wine country  where I live, there's something I would like to say, having just returned from Cape Town South Africa, the city I grew up in, noticing how it has evolved to the point where parts of it are now almost completely unrecognizable, South Africa having undergone one of the most memorable political transitions in the history of the world. At the same time, there is also something I would like to say about the common ground of all paths to experiencing God in one form or another, in a way which omits (which is to say in a way that's really bigger than)  all their individual righteousnesses and religious prejudices (listen: it takes big  men and big  women committed to their particular religious faith, to admit all of our religions, which are arguably some of the most cherished conversations in our entire lives, are fraught with petty individual righteousnesses, religious prejudices, discrimination, and ego).

At the same time, there's also something I would like to say about having committed myself through the rite de passage  a man experiences when he speaks with his mother face to face for (what may be) the last time, a commitment which has a certain finality  to it. At the same time, there's also something I'd like to say about the experience of letting go - about letting go of anything  really, but in particular about letting go that which isn't easy to let go: letting go of a great love, for example.

I don't have four different things to say. I'm not going to say something different about each one of these four experiences. Rather I've got only one thing to say, one thing apropos of all four of them. And this one thing is in fact apropos experience itself, one thing apropos the transient nature  of experience itself. Here's what it is:

Each experience we have (including my four which I've alluded to above, but not limited to them) comes on us newly. Then, once we've experienced it (whatever it is), the experience itself is immediately in the past. We have no  ability, zero, zilch, none whatsoever, to prevent this happening. We have no faculty to keep the present in the present, and stop it from devolving into the past. On the other hand, what we human beings do have a faculty for, and what we're actually very good at doing (in fact it's what we're built to do) is holding on to the experiences of the past by recalling them into the present, and then using them as building blocks for the future.

On paper at least, that sounds like a good idea. It sounds like a good way to survive. There's only one problem it bodes for living  (as distinct from surviving) - and as it turns out, it's a big  problem. The problem is, while it may be a good way to survive, living and life itself  don't work best that way. Surviving  the future may work best when based on building blocks from the past. However creating  the future of our own choosing, doesn't work best when based on building blocks from the past. Creating the future works best when based on nothing. Choice is only ever truly free when it's based on nothing. Any experience from the past, no matter how dearly it's held, no matter how treasured it is, only serves to skew creating the future based on nothing. And the thing is if I don't create the future from nothing (in other words if I don't exercise choice in the matter of my future), my whole god-damned  life is all  based on the past. Then it's the circumstances, not I, giving the future.

This is why completing those four experiences from Cape Town South Africa, demands I let them go. They happened. They're in the past now. This leaves the future wide open with nothing in it. I can now create the future newly, rather than have experiences from the past (no matter how dear they are, no matter how treasured they are, no matter my tendency to enshrine them in silver boxes)  get in the way. A future created newly, a future created from nothing, honors the past by being discontiguous from it and by its independence of it. Creating a future newly ie from nothing, recontextualizes  (I love  that word) my past in Cape Town South Africa.



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