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


Friend II

Big 3, Sonoma, California, USA

April 9, 2012



This essay, Friend II, is the companion piece to Friend.

It is also a component of the supergroup Friend: I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick and to Charlene Afremow who inspired this conversation.




The thing about me being your friend (the thing about me being your true  friend) is it's what I offer to you. It's not what you earn from me. I'm your friend not because you've earned my friendship. I'm your friend because I say I'm your friend.

Gee! I hope you get that ...

Distinguishing friend as something offered rather than as something earned, positions me as the source of friendship - and in so doing, also eliminates  the condition of friendship in short supply ie it eliminates the scarcity  of friends. If friends are scarce, make more  by offering more friendship! You're the source of friendship. Of that which you generate, there's always an endless supply.

Offering friendship is a linguistic act. "I'm your friend!" offers friendship as it speaks it into existence. When I say "I'm your friend!", I'm the source of the generosity  of friendship. There's nothing you did or have to do to earn it. Can you recall a time when you decided someone earned your friendship? Friendship someone earned from you isn't friendship you gave. Tell the truth about it: there's nothing generous about us in the matter of someone earning our friendship. Listen: some of the components of friendship are a generosity of spirit, a generosity of sharing, a generosity of listening, yes?

Widely given answers to "Why  are you such good friends?" are "We've got a lot in common"  and "We share a lot of interests.". This essay, Friend II, however, doesn't pivot friendship on a seesaw of having shared interests or not. Rather, it postulates true friendship purely as a created linguistic act, and depends far less than we allow for, on having a lot in common, on sharing interests. But here's the thing (using the same vocabulary but with a profoundly different  perspective): what we all  have in common, what we all  share is who we really are. What we all have in common, what we all share is Self.

Now that's  interesting ... and notice who we really are ie Self is already present, is already in common, is already shared prior to all our declarations "I'm your friend!".

In this context, it's arguably the presence of the generosity of listening which distinguishes and makes true friendship available. If we observe people around whom there appears to be no shortage of friends, I assert you'll notice something in the quality of their listening, something in the way they listen which allows people to presence  themselves and be who they really are around them. In other words, to create a friend, be a friend. You can see this theme running throughout transformed communication, such as in Werner Erhard's classic reinstatement of the correct indication of what makes some people interesting: "Interesting people are interested.".

Isn't that what really turns you on: having someone be interested in you? I mean really? By having "someone be interested in you", I simply mean someone listening  you. Isn't that what you want in a friend: that they're a listening for you? Isn't the quality of someone's listening for you, the key factor in whether you regard them as a friend, or not? Now, I'm not saying that's unequivocally the truth  (and it may be). Rather, I'm posing it as an open question: isn't listening  the real essence of friend? And aren't you the one (the only  one, actually) who can ever truthfully say about yourself "I'm listening!"?

Furthermore, isn't this the missing quality which brings forth family as friends?  Anyone who's been to a family gathering with the entire extended clan present, knows only too well the DNA, the shared flesh of family, even the bonds of marriage into family aren't always enough by themselves for friendship to flourish. Family listening for who each other really is, is easily recognized as what's missing. Once recognized as what's missing, it can be reinstated - with dramatic results.

I had the occasion recently to sit down with two friends, one of whom is a listening for me, the other of whom is family for me. Now obviously  the difference isn't that clear cut. The two qualities aren't that separate. In fact, the two qualities actually blur together. Both  friends are a listening for me. Both  friends are family for me. Yet to say one of them is a listening for me, and the other of them is family for me is good enough for jazz. It makes the point by fleshing out two essential qualities present in friend, neither of which are required from you for me to be your friend. Remember, you don't have to earn friendship from me. I'm your friend not because of something you earn: I'm your friend because I say "I'm your friend!" - which is to say I'm listening you as friend.

But it's more than that actually. It's when I speak "I'm your friend!", it's when I listen you as friend in a context of transformation, I'm actually listening you as family.



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