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

Even Champions Sleep

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

October 15, 2019

This essay, Even Champions Sleep, is the companion piece to Being Upset: This Side Of A Breakthrough.

It is also the prequel to Generate It: It Doesn't Last Forever.

It was written at the same time as Safeguarding The Power And Progress Of Conversations For Transformation.

She's a good friend, and what she shared with me got me thinking. Now to be clear, there's no rigor in saying it that way. Thinking got me  - that's more like it. But what we say colloquially is it "... got me thinking", code for "Something of interest engaged me.". That said, saying it "... got me thinking" is good enough for jazz.

Here's what got me thinking: she's been a graduate for many years, almost as long as I have. She had an argument with a family member with whom she disagreed on a point of setting boundaries for children. The conversation got heated, and at some point she got upset. "Well?" I said, hanging back. "I shouldn't have, I know better" she rued. "And so what?!" I countered (she hadn't yet put forth enough substance for a worthwile conversation). "I got upset"  she said (like there's something wrong  with being upset), "that's what.". "And so? ..." I said, letting it trail off and hang in the air, wanting her to ante more before I committed to the conversation.

Could she be measuring her transformation by how frequently or infrequently she got upset? People do. And that's what got me thinking: would a champion athlete be disappointed in her or his physical performance if they had to sleep? That's a non sequitur, yes? Even champions sleep, as even transformed human beings get upset.

While the idea of transforming lives (your own and others') may be noble, pushing yourself ie expecting  yourself to never be upset, may not be all that noble. It may be just another winning formula. I know (at least I can hazard a guess at) her background conversation: it's in effect that she's engaged in the work of transformation for so long now that she shouldn't get upset anymore!  Look: that's not likely to happen. Not ever. Human beings, being human, are prone to get upset from time to time, no matter how transformed they may consider themselves to be. There's not much that can be done about that, given the machinery's constructed the way it is.

There is however, a choice in the matter of who we'll be  in the face of being upset. And taking that on, is the access to transformation in the midst of being upset. But to not get upset at all?  To assume that, is to be unclear about the machinery which comprises a human being (note: electing to stay  unclear, is a survival ploy, a mechanism). "Even champions sleep" I mused, to which she responded "And what do you mean by that?". I said (something like) "In your way of looking at this, transformed people should never get upset - like champions should never sleep. If both of those scenarios were true, neither champions nor transformed people would be human. The trouble is: we are. So we need another context for this, a context that allows both to be human. And given both already are  human, distinguishing a new context would actually be the easier route. Also, remember this: being transformed isn't distinguished by never being upset. Being transformed is distinguished by generating a new context for who we really are. And this new context for who we really, is bigger than and includes and allows for being upset from time to time.".

For many people, that would have been hard to follow. For her, it wasn't. Her relief was both immediate and palpable. It's good to be reminded of it from time to time - and I'm not just directing that observation at her: I'm including myself in it too. It's good (it's a relief, actually) when others remind me of it from time to time: I'm transformed for as long as I'm transformed ... until I notice that I'm no longer being transformed ie until I get upset. The thing is as soon as I can own being upset, I can generate being transformed again. Oh, if it's true that there's a discipline  of being transformed? then this is what it is, and this is all  it is. It's profoundly  subtle.

"So what are you going to do now?" I asked. "I'm going to clean it up with (the person with whom she got upset)" she replied. "Wow! That's big, courageous. I'll bet you'll find out communicating even the same argued ideas, when you're not  upset, renders them more listenable.". "It's true!" she said. I could tell she got it. Again.

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© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission