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

Fragile Threads:

The Possibility Of Being Vulnerable And Powerful

Calistoga, California, USA

October 27, 2019

Babies aren't born with a macho  gene. Macho is learned. It's a cover-up. It's a survival-invoked protection of the delicateness and fragility of our lives. And our lives are  delicate and fragile. "Keep a stiff upper lip" as Sir Pelham Grenville "PG" Wodehouse may have said (UK) is but a cultural hair's breadth away from "Never give a inch" as Ken Kesey may have said (USA). Our erroneously learned assumption is that in the face of being fragile, something needs to be done to hide it ie something's called for to cover it up - and maintaining a stiff upper lip / never giving "a"  inch, shows power, demonstrates being in control, indeed restores  control - that is to say in the face of being fragile it's our access to power. But it's not. That's a fallacy. Being fragile, our access to power is being vulnerable - which may be counterintuitive.

Photograph courtesy
The very threads of our lives are fragile. Our erstwhile youthful years' regarding of our bodies as bulletproof and invincible, gives way to knowing they're fragile, bruisable (sometimes irreparably so) breakable soft tissue. Our relationships and what we invest in them are fragile. Our health is fragile. Our financial systems, indeed the threads of our very financial securities, are fragile, dependent as they are on other networks of equally fragile threads, almost none of which are under our control ... which almost gets me started on how many of them are lacking an acceptable level of integrity too.

Observably, the systems we've put in place, and then taken for granted daily, like our energy and transportation systems, are fragile. One accident clogs an entire freeway. Changes in the weather in one location ground countless air travelers across the country. Indeed the very climate with all its naturally threaded conditions which give hospitality to our lives, is fragile. Any thread we break, we break at our own dire peril.

The way to be with our fragility, over and beyond developing smarter, more robust systems, and becoming more woke  to both our humanity and our environment, is not to ignore our vulnerability, nor to grouse about it or to shy from it, nor to be stoic about it, nor (even worse) to pretend it isn't happening and to "make the most of it". There's no access to power ie there's no path to authentic being  in any of the above.

The access to power, the access to authentic being in all the above, isn't only to protect the fragile threads of our lives once they become threatened. That's not just a dubious solution: it's also not a powerful one (not to mention it's often too late). The powerful way to protect our fragility starts with being vulnerable. That way, that which is fragile in our lives, can show up for what it is - kinda like it can reveal  itself for us to attend to in a timely manner. That's where authenticity begins. That's where authenticity takes root. It's the platform to stand on to consider what's next. Anything else is just more ostrich-head-in-the-sand, more avoidance, more macho.

It's the not-so-obvious counterintuitive connection between being vulnerable and being powerful. Authentic power is at least predicated on the willingness to be with what's so. And being with what's so, especially being willing to be with all the fragile threads of our lives, is almost surely going to require telling the truth about being vulnerable, about what we're in charge of, about the way we take it on, about how we're dependent and interdependent on every fragile thread of our environment.

Even with all that said, being authentically vulnerable to what's so about the fragility of the systems which support us, isn't the end goal. The end goal is to have the woke, the smarts, and the systems in place to support life working for everyone with no one and nothing left out. The catalyst for this to work is to be unflinchingly open to whatever we're vulnerable to ie to simply allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to take the lid off of that which suppresses our vulnerability, to dispense with being macho as the go-to  response, so that whatever fragility it is we're actually vulnerable to, shows up unmitigated, unfiltered, direct, and can be powerfully dealt with.

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