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


Auckland, North Island, New Zealand

June 22, 2013

"For me this is a practical matter. Instead of having the answer about God like some guy or some thing or some explanation or some anything, I have a space of possibility like an openness, like a place for God to show up in my life."
...   speaking with Reverend Terry Cole-Whittaker about God 
This essay, Godzone, is the first in a group of five written in New Zealand / Fiji, June 2013:
  1. Godzone
  2. You'll Hear The Rumble
  3. B-Grade Hotel
  4. The Rain Is Coming, Mr Laurence
  5. Is Fiji Paradise?
in that order.

This group of five written in New Zealand / Fiji, June 2013 is the sequel to Christian Rocks!.

I am indebted to my son Christian Laurence Platt who contributed material for this conversation.

To say it's good to be back after thirty seven years is an understatement. It's not that I intentionally stayed away for this long, nor that anything stopped me coming back sooner. It's just that after I left, things came up for me to handle ... which led to other things ... which led to yet more things ... and now that it's time to return, I notice thirty seven years have flown by ... just ... like ... that  ... so it seems like I was only here yesterday. Putting foot back on New Zealand soil again is simply sublime.

As we prepared to land at Auckland international airport, the pilot announced the local time. I left on Thursday evening, flew non-stop from San Francisco for thirteen and a half hours ... and now it's Saturday. Friday has completely disappeared. New Zealand is a day ahead of California. To understand that, you'll have to ask the folks in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in south east London, England to explain what happens when you cross the international date line flying east to west.

To make things even more  interesting (or, depending on how you look at it, more maddening), when both California and New Zealand are on daylight savings time, there's a nineteen hour time change: Thursday at 10:00pm in California is Friday 5:00pm in New Zealand. When California is on daylight savings time and New Zealand isn't, it's an eighteen hour time change: Thursday at 10:00pm in California is Friday 4:00pm in New Zealand. When California isn't on daylight savings time and New Zealand is, then it's a twenty hour time change: Thursday at 9:00pm in California is Friday 5:00pm in New Zealand. Note California and New Zealand are never off daylight savings time simultaneously.

But what really  happens when you land in New Zealand is you go back in time to a far more sensible era, to a far more humane epoch, to a far more relaxed age, to a far more gentle way of life in which the air is so fresh to breathe it startles you when you inhale it for the first time, in which the tap water is clean  and cool  and delicious  and refreshing  straight out of the kitchen faucet ("Bottled water? What's bottled water?"). Right off the bat, you get the sense New Zealanders aka Kiwis  (Kiwis are named for the indigenous flightless Kiwi bird, the international symbol for New Zealanders) love their country, are proud of it, and are eager to share it with you. It's easy to see why. These are nice people. These are good  people. These are kind people. These are decent people.

The citizens of New Zealand, from the native Maoris to the waves of British immigrants since them (New Zealand still has Queen Elizabeth II on its postage stamps and on its currency) to the cosmopolitan blend of Pacific Islanders and other immigrants from all over the world, comprise a total population of four and a half million people. That's the entire country. The population of the entire country of New Zealand could fit into the population of the San Francisco Bay Area one and a half times, and the entire land mass of New Zealand could fit into the state of California one and a half times. The current Powerball  lottery in New Zealand carries a monster (for here) prize of six million New Zealand dollars (about five and a half million US dollars) compared to the recent USA Powerball lottery's prize of over half a billion  US dollars. Make no error: it's easy for anyone to live pretty fine on six million dollars (New Zealand or US) in either New Zealand or in the USA.

There's a local Maori love song I learned last time I was here which still rings deep in my being whenever I think of New Zealand. Here are the first two verses of the hauntingly beautiful Pokarekare Ana  ("Agitated Waters") which arose in the north of Auckland at the start of world war one:

Verse Maori English
1 Pokarekare ana,
nga wai o Rotorua.
Whiti atu koe hine
marino ana e
They are agitated,
the waters of Rotorua.
But when you cross over girl
they will be calm.
2 E hine e
hoki mai ra.
Ka mate ahau I
te aroha e
Oh girl
return to me.
I could die
of love for you.

Artists from all over the world have covered this New Zealand classic. It's deeply loved here in this lush, green country which the locals refer to as Godzone.

The name Godzone evolved gradually. A hundred years ago the residents of New Zealand originally referred to it as "God's own country", an entirely fitting term of endearment for this enchanting place, which over time has undergone a series of morphs:  from "God's own country" to just "God's own" to the lesser known Godsown  or the rare Godzown, and finally to simply Godzone - with its additional matching implications "God zone", "God's zone", "Gods zone", and "Gods' zone".

So Godzone is, appropriately enough for me, a place for God to show up. In other words Godzone is quite literally who we really are.

When I tell the truth about it, I jump-started my life in Godzone. It was here I learned the mainframe computer software skills which later became the bedrock of my enterprise Laurence Platt and Associates, as an employee of Big Blue  - IBM ie International Business Machines Americas Far East (aka A/FE)  Business Systems, located on The Terrace in Wellington, New Zealand. It's almost impossible to quantify and to do justice to what my sojourn in Godzone and my tenure with IBM NZ in particular later became for me. Everything I've done since then (at least but not only materially)  has a direct lineage back to New Zealand and to IBM NZ in particular. You can never say "Thank You!" enough for a gift of this magnitude. But I say anyway "Thank You New Zealand!" and "Thank You IBM NZ!" in particular. Just: "Thank You!".

What I didn't realize at that time was what lay ahead for me when I left Godzone thirty seven years ago bound for the Fiji islands and the United States. At that time, the idea of intentionally inventing a possibility for what was next for my life, hadn't even remotely occurred to me. At that time, I literally had no idea (and no say  yet either, for that matter) in which direction my life would go.

As it turned out, the direction in which my life did go was the shortest distance possible from Godzone straight to Werner.

Background soundtrack: Sample Inia Te Wiata: Pokarekare Ana - wait for 116K download

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