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
Examining The Unthinkable
Plumpjack Balboa Café, Mill Valley, California,
October 3, 2011
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I could take an in depth, unwavering,
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
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
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.