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


Examining The Unthinkable

Plumpjack Balboa Café, Mill Valley, California, USA

October 3, 2011



"The unexamined life is not worth living." ... Socrates
"An untransformed life is not worth living."  ... 
I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick who inspired this conversation.



I've got a lot  of living to do. And I'm only just now getting started.

With my three grown children now almost totally independent of me, new freedom for doing things I want to do is dawning. It's not a better  freedom than that which I enjoyed when I was a full time Dad. Really it's not. I'm in no hurry to relinquish being the father and protector of my children. I'm in no hurry to give up that role. But a reality of Life is that particular role becomes more and more redundant as children grow up.

It's more than just the role of father and protector which is becoming redundant. It's also where  I live which is becoming less and less stipulated. Obviously I live (which is to say lived)  in the same town as my children. Pretty soon none of them will be living in my town any more - two of them already don't. This means new freedom is dawning not only for what  I'll do next, but also for where  in the world I'll do it.

There are things I've long envisioned doing with this new freedom. I've started living into the very real possibility of them finally happening. Even though there's never absolute certainty anything will happen, I've started living as if  they'll happen - so much so that I've given no consideration whatsoever to the possibility of them not  happening. It's my intention  they happen. Why even consider them not  happening if I intend them to happen?

Then one day I noticed a little "What if ...?"  was there. There hadn't been a trace of "What if ...?" until then - not one iota. It just spontaneously and quietly and imperceptibly (ie imperceptibly at first)  appeared. It was so unnoticeable at first that I didn't even realize I needed to pay attention to it. But when I started listening to it, I heard it saying "What if  things don't go the way you want them to go after all?". It was very subtle. Yet it grabbed  my attention. I was riveted. It wasn't that things won't  go the way I want them to go: just that they may  not go the way I want them to go.

At first, confronting the possibility of things maybe not going the way I want them to go was extremely difficult. Until then, there had been no possibility  things wouldn't go the way I want them to go - that is, no possibility that I'd allowed myself to confront. It seemed if I started looking at things not going the way I want them to go, they wouldn't go the way I want them to go. It seemed as if merely looking  at the possibility of things not going the way I want them go, would cause things to not go the way I want them to go.

Now I was in a bind, a rough dichotomy  in fact. Having really heard the question "What if ...?", I could no longer ignore it. So of course, being who I am, I had to confront the possibility of things not going the way I want them to go - I don't stay stoopid  very long.

Very gingerly  at first, I started to confront it: "What will happen if things maybe don't go the way I want them to go? What will I do  if things maybe don't go the way I want them to go? Can I live with  things maybe not going the way I want them to go?". And the more I confronted the possibility of things maybe not going the way I want them to go, the more it seemed by doing so  I was causing it to manifest. I realized I was stuck. It seemed all I was doing was getting in my own way  of manifesting what I've long envisioned doing with my new freedom. I was defeating myself. It was wretched.

Then something happened. Little by little I started to see the self defeat and the wretchedness weren't what I thought they were. They weren't the results of me getting in my own way. They were the results of my unwillingness to examine the unthinkable. Inventing a future worth living into is firstly  a matter of having how it is, right here, right now, be OK. That's the platform from which to start. If the way I want things to go doesn't happen, then what I'm left with is who I am, right here, right now. And if that's  not OK, then the way I want things to go starts off on shaky ground anyway.

It was a breakthrough. I could take an in depth, unwavering, unflinching  look at where I would be, and what it would be like, and what I'd be left with if things don't go the way I want them to go. And this time, there was no getting in the way of myself. This time, looking at the possibility of things not going the way I want them to go, was simply looking at the possibility of things not going the way I want them to go. There was a whole new sense of calm around it. I saw I'll always be who I say I am - whether things go the way I want them to go, or not. I saw I'll always be the master of the quality of my life - whether things go the way I want them to go, or not. I saw it's easy  to look at things going the way I want them to go. But it takes a certain bigness  to look at the possibility of things not going the way I want them to go, and not have that be debilitating, self-defeating, wretched, or even overly significant.

So now, with what once was unexamined being fully examined, I'm free to powerfully live into the very real possibility of the things I've envisioned doing with this new freedom, really happening. The beauty of this is it's the same world of possibility I was living into before, only now the unthinkable has been examined rather than merely being avoided, brushed under the rug, or unconfronted. And it's from the space of having the unthinkable being examined that I'm back on track, having restarted passionately living into the possibility of the things I want to do with this new freedom, really happening.



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