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


External Tank

Muir Beach, California, USA

New Year's Day, January 1, 2011



"If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss ... you'll be a Man, my son!"
 ... Rudyard Kipling, If

"Kindness is kind. It isn't mine." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, External Tank, is the third in a group of six written on New Year's Day:
  1. Orion
  2. Clean, Well Lit Quarters
  3. External Tank
  4. The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line II
  5. As Your Natural Self-Expression
  6. Werner's Work In Academia
in that order. I am indebted to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) who contributed material for this conversation.




Photograph courtesy history.nasa.gov
Space Shuttle jettisons External Tank
It's the largest visible component of the space shuttle at launch. The external tank provides a half million gallons of fuel for the space shuttle's three engines thereby powering the craft with eight million pounds of thrust to roar beyond Earth's Earth's into space. But then, a mere eight and a half minutes into the flight only seventy miles above Earth, the tank's life is over. Now empty, it's jettisoned to disintegrate in the atmosphere and fall into the ocean. The external tank is the only component of the space shuttle which isn't reused.

It's often the biggest things in my life which have gotten me far, very far, which are then no longer sufficient in and of themselves for bringing forth the next expression of my life. I'm speaking about the ways I be  rather than about my gifts or about my talents or about my best skills. If I tell the truth about them, the ways I be which were once worth something, may no longer even be useful  for bringing forth the next expression of my life. No matter how valuable a way of being was, no matter how useful an erstwhile expression of Self was, no matter how good  I once was at being a certain way (that could mean yesterday  - not necessarily the distant  past), once it's outlived its usefulness, it's simply dead weight. Unlike the space shuttle's external tank which is automatically jettisoned, that to which I've become inured, that to which I've become attached, the ways of being I've come to rely on, those which I've incorporated into my repertoire of strong suits  are much harder to let go of even when they've become dead weight just as suddenly as the external tank after eight and a half minutes of flight, even when they too have totally outlived their usefulness.

With some of my gifts, with some of my talents, with some of my best skills (creating websites for example) I'm certain about where things are going and about what has to be done to get them there. I know what the yet to be created  website will look like. I know what the final effect will be like. So I simply do what I need to do to realize the result. In other words I map out, step by step, what needs to be done. Then I complete each step. And voila!  The result is realized. Predictably. Exactly as expected. No mystery here.

Creating websites isn't an external tank  for me. The way I be is what an external tank is analogous to for me. I've been a survivor. I've been a traveler. I've been a lover. I've been a family man. I've been a go getter. I've been smart. I've been very  smart. All have imbued me with experience. So I've incorporated them into my repertoire of strong suits. But none of them have any bearing on bringing forth the next expression of my life. None of them have any bearing on (and may not even be useful for) bringing forth the next expression of my life following Conversations For Transformation. What grips me is in my quietest moments when it dawns on me neither Conversations For Transformation nor their meticulously detailed, carefully crafted success will have any bearing on (and may not even be useful for) bringing forth the next expression of my life following Conversations For Transformation.

It's a daunting realization. In the truest sense of the word, it's an awful  realization ie an awe-full  realization. It's not that there's no resting on laurels  which I find daunting. It's that there's always  the tendency to lapse into complacency and to simply stick with that which I already  got and with that which already works. And complacency isn't enough to bring forth the next expression of my life. But what's worse (or better - depending on which way you look at this) is neither are the ways I be so far  enough in and of themselves for bringing forth the next expression of my life.

It's daunting that the ways I be so far  will have to be, more sooner than later, unceremoniously jettisoned like an external tank before the next expression of my life can come forth. That which once was the  critical component for getting the shuttle into space, the external tank, now ironically yet clearly impedes ie holds back  any further progress unless it's jettisoned.



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