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


Essays - Eight Years Later:

Riding The Open Range

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

August 17, 2011



This essay, Essays - Eight Years Later: Riding The Open Range, is the eighth annual State Of The Union  celebration of Conversations For Transformation:
  1. Essays - One Year Later: Critical Mass
  2. Essays - Two Years Later: Glass Walled Studio
  3. Essays - Three Years Later: Internet Presence
  4. Essays - Four Years Later: Side By Side
  5. Essays - Five Years Later: Arm In Arm
  6. Essays - Six Years Later: A Very Good Year
  7. Essays - Seven Years Later: By My Self
  8. Essays - Eight Years Later: Riding The Open Range
  9. Essays - Nine Years Later: Recreation
  10. Essays - Ten Years Later: Decade
  11. Essays - Eleven Years Later: Unimaginable
  12. Essays - Twelve Years Later: A New Beginning
  13. Essays - Thirteen Years Later: A Certain Space
in that order.

I am indebted to James Tsutsui who inspired this conversation.




Conversations For Transformation
Conversations For Transformation
Essays By Laurence Platt
Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard
And More
Thank You for Your Listening. Really. I mean that. Without your listening, there are  no Conversations For Transformation. That's the truth.

This is my eighth year of these Conversations For Transformation. It's not my eighth year of writing them. It's my eighth year of publishing them on the internet. The website itself sprang from an epiphany I had while riding my Cannondale  bicycle eight years ago on a thirty mile ride through the Napa Valley in California where I've lived for nearly twenty five years. I'd amassed a collection of pieces I'd written in various genres. I didn't know what to do with them. Some of them dated back to 1969. By "didn't know what to do with them" I mean until the epiphany, I had no vision for how I would use them or even if I would ever publish them at all.

While they were accumulating over the years, I didn't realize they were becoming the critical mass which spontaneously started these Conversations For Transformation.

Originally when I coded this Conversations For Transformation website and published the first fifty essays on Sunday August 17, 2003, I hadn't committed  to any particular publishing schedule. I hadn't yet promised  how many essays I would write or how often or by when. I wrote what I wrote whenever I wrote laissez-faire, and I published them whenever I published them.

This has now stabilized into a commitment to publish two essays a week. It doesn't mean I have  two essays a week on hand or in reserve, to publish. It means I'm committed to publishing two essays a week. So not having two essays a week on hand or in reserve to publish, I'll write two a week. About what  will I write? I don't know. At least not yet. There's only one thing I do  know about future essays not yet written, and it's this: their context  is Werner, Werner's work, transformation, and possibility. That's a given.

It turns out it works best to publish soon after Sunday midnight and soon after Wednesday midnight. Often it's not until a few hours before this self imposed deadline that I become aware of the topic of the promised essay. Soon there'll be six hundred and fifty essays having received five hundred and fifty thousand page views. Once an essay is published and an announcement is made by e‑mail to a distribution list of about one thousand five hundred people, the number of page views received by the Conversations For Transformation website in the following two or three days varies anywhere from nine hundred to over two thousand. It's often the essays I myself am most critical of, which receive the most page views. It's a mystery to me why it's this way. I've not determined any particular pattern which accounts for some essays attracting a thousand page views more than others.

There's a lot to celebrate. But there's also a danger inherent in celebrating Conversations For Transformation. Let me explain what I mean by this.

The danger inherent in any celebration is that it devolves into a retrospective. Now, there's nothing wrong with celebrating and there's nothing wrong with retrospectives. But this is, after all, the eighth annual State Of The Union  celebration of Conversations For Transformation. It's not just any  celebration. It's a celebration of Conversations For Transformation. A retrospective of Conversations For Transformation isn't what I have in mind. It simply wouldn't work. Here's why:

What I want to be careful of is not resting on the laurels of the past - at least, not in this  endeavor. It's a simple fact of creating Life newly that a conversation based in the past just doesn't work. The first rule, if you will, of creating Life newly is to leave the past in the past so there's nothing  in the future except empty space to create into. I'm not saying "Never have  conversations based in the past.". How, for example, could we ever study the richness of our history if we ruled out conversations based in the past? That said, it's Conversations For Transformation which don't go well in the past. Rather, they should leave you with new possibilities for the future (which is to say they should inspire  you to invent new possibilities for the future), and with new openings for action.

Any inspiration coming from Conversations For Transformation, by the way, is only secondary and really doesn't have much to do with Conversations For Transformation themselves. What inspires us primarily is the possibility of who we really are. Said another way, what inspires us primarily is who we could become  like a possibility. If Conversations For Transformation produce any inspiration at all, a trivial fraction of it comes from what they say. Where their inspiration comes from for the most part is our own source of being. So if these Conversations For Transformation succeed at all, they succeed in creating an access to who we really are. That's the source of our inspiration. Really it is.

On the subject of these Conversations For Transformation succeeding, I'd like to carefully avoid creating a sense of them having any kind of recipe or formula for transformation because they don't. And if they ever appear to, it'll only get in the way. I assert there's only one worthwhile use for these Conversations For Transformation and that's if and when they convey a sense of Self, a sense of who we really are. If they do, then they succeed. By "succeed" I mean they fulfill their own stated intention.

Being grounded in who we really are is really the end result of all human endeavors. Werner calls playing the game grounded in who we really are "playing from win". In the normal course of events, we play the game in order to  win. But in Werner's space you only start  playing the game after  you win ... AND  ... (so this doesn't create any mistaken impressions) in Werner's space everyone wins. No one and nothing is left out.

Now that I've laid some groundwork, let's get back for just one moment to the danger inherent in any celebration is that it devolves into a retrospective. There's no retrospective when it comes to transformation. There's no power in the past. It's truly deadly. We're thrown  to celebrate our successes, and yet in the case of celebrating the success (if you will) of Conversations For Transformation, there's a very real danger the celebration will drag them back into the past where they have no power, no use, and no value at all.

At very least, transformation is of the present: it's NOW  ... and NOW  ... and NOW. At best, it's of the future. A transformed future is a future worth living into. Having transformation be a thing of the past is as misguided as attempting to steer a car by turning the rear view mirror. This is the danger I face: celebrating Conversations For Transformation makes them of the past (or at least there's a likelihood celebrating Conversations For Transformation will devolve into the past). Since I'm disinclined to forgo the celebration, I re-aver transformation is future based  rather than past  based. By this declaration I manage decisively our thrown‑ness to devolve into the past.

In any celebration there are people to thank. I'd like to thank you  personally for listening these Conversations For Transformation in a way which allows me and supports me bringing them forth. One option in writing them (in writing anything, actually, but in particular in writing these Conversations For Transformation) is to write them in a manuscript and keep them until they can be sold as a book. Clearly I've eschewed this approach. The way these Conversations For Transformation come alive is more intimate than that. They come alive as the spoken word and are listened almost immediately.

This is their milieu. This is their medium. If they weren't listened almost immediately, they wouldn't be the kind of creation they are. I can provide their speaking. I can even provide their listening. Really I can. But there's no exponential expansion without you listening. And when you listen, I regard it not only as a very personal gift, but I also regard it as the context ie the essential  context in which these Conversations For Transformation come alive. If it weren't for you listening, these Conversations For Transformation simply wouldn't have a context within which they could work - which is to say, they wouldn't  work without you listening. And if I noticed they didn't work, they wouldn't exist either: I'd stop writing them toot sweet.

Each year of the eight years of this Conversations For Transformation project has opened up new vistas for me. By "new vistas"  I mean new ways of looking at Life - which in turn open up new ways of being  with Life. In earlier years of the Conversations For Transformation project I discovered a framework, if you will, within which I could work. That was critical: discovering the boundaries  within which what I was doing, worked. Now I see those erstwhile necessary boundaries differently. Those boundaries now occur to me like the training wheels  I had on my first bicycle. I needed them to learn to ride. But once I learned to ride, the training wheels were discarded. And had they not  been discarded, they would have soon become an impediment to me riding.

Another way of looking at these erstwhile boundaries is they formed the corral  in which I learned horseback riding. But once I became proficient at horseback riding, the boundaries of the corral served no useful purpose. They had  to be discarded for me to have access to riding the open range. This is my new vista: riding the open range.

Now that the boundaries are discarded, I realize it's a vast  and wide open range to ride. It's a huge open canvas on which to create. And except for the inspiration which drives me to ride this vast and wide open range as long as I can as hard as I can, it's all new territory. There's a great sense of freedom now. There's no end in sight  for these Conversations For Transformation. Really there isn't. There's simply no end to creatiing who we really are and what's possible for us, in language. This isn't something which runs out  or exhausts itself. Neither are its raw materials in short supply. To the contrary, this is a vast and wide open range, a very  vast and wide open range. It's a vista I look from which, like Life itself, allows for endless possibilities. The possibilities truly are  endless.

I appreciate your support. Honest I do. Thank you for everything you've said in support of this project. I especially thank the people I hardly ever hear from because they say it all. They contact me once in a blue moon  or less. Their entire  conversation consists of something like "Thank You for doing what you're doing.". That's it. That's all. Nothing more.

I got it. You're Welcome. And look, I've said this before and I'm saying it again:

Don't thank me. Thank Werner.


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