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

Face To Face

Chicago, Illinois, USA

April 14, 2007

This essay, Face To Face, is the second in the third trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  2. What Goes On Internally
  3. Riding The Horse Revisited
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Secret Service.

He's incredibly demanding.

Ordinarily that's not regarded as a great thing to say about someone. "He's incredibly demanding" is a not so indirect way of issuing a warning about someone which calls on people's agreement to shun a party spoiler. In day to day life and conversations in which who we are as our word  is absent, so-called demanding people spoil the party.

But the way in which he's incredibly demanding is entirely appropriate given his job. As a matter of fact, it's a requirement  given his job, and he's totally masterful  at it. When he interrogates, he asks people to go beyond that which is comfortable, beyond that which is already known. He asks people to get out of the box, so to speak, and into the base foundation of what it is to be human.

In that avenue, being incredibly demanding is a necessary skill. Left to our own devices, the chances are slim to none we'd generate the depth of inquiry called for to produce transformation. Although that statement may not be palatable to some, possibly even to many, the truth of the matter is if transformation were easy, we'd all be transformed by now.

I'm one of those people who recognize the need for rigor and for power in the conversations for transformation. Furthermore I've never taken issue with nor had a problem with raised voices or intense language in a philosophical debate. Truth, for me, is a hard master. There's nothing, for example, gentle about gravity. Just ask people who've messed with it. Just ask people who've disregarded its dictatorial nature.

When his invitation to have lunch with him arrived, I wondered what it would be like. I wondered what I could bring to or say at the meeting which would inspire and make a contribution. I wondered whether or not lunch with him would be ... well ... demanding.

There was, in retrospect, no need to wonder what to bring. All he wants from anyone is for them to bring who they really are. There was, in retrospect, no need to wonder what to say. In the opening afforded by people being who they really are together, whatever gets said is what wants to be said. And, in retrospect, wondering if lunch with him would be demanding was like wondering if hammering continues once the nail is driven home. He's chooses being demanding  like choosing the right tool when that particular tool is what's needed to get the job done. When the job's done and that particular tool is no longer needed, he puts it back in the tool box until it's needed again.

He showed me two perfect exotic bonsai  miniature trees he's been cultivating for years. We talked about the vagaries of email. I said I'm twenty responses backlogged. He said he's nearly two thousand responses backlogged. I commented that's a different league. That's the majors, I said. He said no we're in the same league.

Lunch was served in two elegant identical sets of oriental dishes placed in front of each of us. Sitting opposite each other we immediately traded two items, he preferring seafood served to me, I preferring a salad served to him. As we ate he asked about my family and about my children's school grades. I shared how I'd transformed my relationship with my mother by noticing my already always listening for her. He shared about his children, how they're each in great shape in their lives. He agreed with me which one of them I asserted most reflects his genetic legacy. He spoke with profound kindness about his mother. As I listened it was clear to me how strong his family bond is: his bond with them and their bond with him. He is deeply, deeply moved when he speaks about his family.

I shared with him what it was like catching my first wave in Hawai'i after a twenty year break from surfing. I put down my chopsticks to demonstrate how a surfer paddles to take off on a wave. I mentioned how my morning and evening swimming regimen had given me new upper body strength, without which returning to surfing so quickly after a twenty year hiatus would have been almost impossible. He's not a surfer but I'm totally clear he got the thrill of that first ride. He shared with me about the treatise on integrity he's working on, and about his truly brutal travel schedule.

It's natural when I'm with someone I love to not want to say goodbye. It's normal for me to not want to leave. When our allocated time together was up, we said goodbye and I left. There was nothing unfinished, nothing hanging, nothing incomplete.

We'll meet again soon, somewhere on this planet. Exactly where and exactly when has yet to be determined. If it turns out Antarctica is the most convenient place to meet for breakfast next time, I'll find a way to get there.

Come to think of it, given his relentless ongoing global seminar presentation commitments, that may not be as far fetched as it sounds.

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