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

Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach, California, USA

October 11, 2009

This essay, Goleta Beach, is the companion piece to Timeless Classic Rincon.

It is also the seventh in a group of sixteen about my daughter Alexandra:
  1. Alexandra
  2. Babe On The Freeway
  3. Light In The Night
  4. Alexandra II
  5. Santa Barbara
  6. True Gold
  7. Goleta Beach
  8. Getting Into Your World
  9. Fly Baby Bird!
  10. Celebration At Essaouira
  11. The Woman She Creates Herself To Be
  12. City Girl
  13. Vocal Prowess
  14. Lost And Found: A Tale Of Ownership, Loss, And Triumph
  15. Girly Girl
  16. My Baby Girl, Now A Bride
in that order.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.

Girly Girl  is nineteen years old today.

It's another birthday in the life of someone I know, someone I deeply admire and respect, someone I learn from, someone who allows me to contribute, someone who speaks candidly and openly with me sharing her ideas and even advising me in areas like health, fitness, relationships, travel, and diet, someone who listens openly and attentively to me, someone who never blindly accepts what I say as "the truth"  just because I say it, but rather takes what works as her own and politely declines the rest, someone who openly shares the deepest intimate personal details of her life with me with heroic  unflinching honesty, someone who shares my love for and tastes in music, someone I can sing  with, someone I enjoy being around, someone I love.

I suppose it would be typical, at a time like this, to aver I love her "more than life itself". But I've realized that's not really true for me about her - because for me, she is  life itself.

It's an auspicious occasion, one which I'm reluctant to render overly significant. And yet I can't help simply being in awe of the significance of the day either. I'm a guest in her home for the first time. That's what's auspicious about this occasion. The father is the guest in the daughter's home for the first time. I'm here for four days celebrating her birthday. I'm the only human being on Planet Earth who's been with her on every single one of her nineteen birthdays so far, including the day she was born. And I'm here with her today, her nineteenth birthday, a guest in my daughter's home for the first time. Yes it's auspicious. A milestone in fact.

For her entire life until now, she's lived in my  home, the home I worked hard and long, long hours to afford and build for her. It seems like it was only yesterday I delivered her and cut her umbilical cord, my daughter Alexandra whose name means "the healer and defender of mankind". She was born with her eyes open, her face clear. Looking me, the first human being she laid eyes on on Planet Earth, directly in the eyes, her demeanor said "OK, we're here - let's get on with it". I took her home and showed her around her new home, carrying her in my arms to each corner of our property, describing every square inch to her. She seemed to approve the home I'd made for her.

From that day until she left to go to college, she lived in my home. Then she moved into a dormitory, a dorm  on the campus for a year, still under the watchful eye of adult supervision. But in this her second year she took an apartment a stone's throw from the beautiful Goleta Beach, a stunningly naturally rich environment as perfect for her as the frame surrounding the Mona Lisa is for the enigmatic, transformative La Gioconda  it subtly emphasizes, not distracting from its magnificence yet showcasing its brilliance.

Photography by Laurence Platt
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt
Photography by Laurence Platt
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt
Photography by Laurence Platt
Photography by Laurence Platt
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt
Laurence with Alexandra
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt
Photography by Laurence Platt
Goleta Beach, California, USA - October 10, 2009

She's diligent. Unsupervised, she's a straight "A"  student. She's excited about her life, always and eagerly looking forward to whatever's next, then setting in place whatever she needs to set in place to maximize her own future. In this way, she's quite remarkable. In many  ways, actually, she's remarkable. But in this particular way she's nothing short of amazing.

I'm clear I've had my time to teach her (to suggest  to her, actually) how to take care of herself. We've discussed those choices  which are now in her power to make she may later regret, and even though I've been concerned about the availability of all kinds of temptations on her college campus when I'll no longer be around to watch over her and protect her, it's with a sense of pride rather than loss that I step out of her way and allow her to take the reins of her own life. I trust who she's being. I trust who she says she is. This is exactly where our relationship has shifted, where it's become sublime: between us is nothing  but adult trust, friendship, and respect. The daughter / father  relationship, while it will always be there as a bedrock foundation, has given way ie has passed the baton  to a star / fan  relationship.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. It works both ways. I'm the fan to her star, and she's the fan to my star. The former is my love, admiration, and respect for her. The latter is her gift to me, her priceless never taken for granted  gift to me.

There were times many years ago when I found myself working long, long hours, steadily building the education fund I set up for her which would one day pay for this college education. On occasion, I had to leave her for a week at a time on business. only to return for the weekend, then leave her again for another week. I didn't really get it then. It was ironically counter productive at the time: in order to secure her future, it seemed I had to relinquish being with her in the present. The paradox of it often weighed heavily on me during yet another cross country flight on American Airlines  without her, during yet another night at the Holiday Inn  without her.

Now, fast forward  to the future. Here we are, strolling along Goleta Beach together, the second year of her college already well under way. And it's so complete for me. All those long hours of work, all the securing her future by relinquishing her present which seemed so ironically counter productive back then, is now a source of deep satisfaction and joy. It's not just that she's in a great college. It's that she's in this  college, which is basically on this  beach. The gorgeousness of this environment is only matched by my Girly Girl's  gorgeousness. This place is perfect  for her. It's to her credit she's created herself to be a diligent, undistracted, straight "A"  student. Heck, if it were me, I'd probably squander my grades here surfing as often as possible, taking the time for classes reluctantly only when there was no swell or when the wind blew onshore.

Many adults have a hard time grokking  (as Robert Heinlein may have said) Werner Erhard's seminal assertion "People come from nothing.". You can say that with the emphasis anywhere you like: on the conceptual, on the intellectual, on the actual. It's authentic on any level. It's the come from  Werner refers to when he says "You don't have to go looking for love when it is where you come from.". To a few, that may sound like some hokey line from a soppy country and western  ballad. Be careful. It's not. It's deeply profound. We're all convinced there's something inside us, some core, some kernel, some soul  which is the foundation of who we are. In truth, there's nothing  ... and if you can get that, you're free. You're free to create  because in truth, you can only create coming from  nothing. Sorry, but if you create from something, that's not creating - that's only changing.

As Girly Girl's  father and umbilical cord cutter, looking at her now, a beautiful, svelte, intelligent nineteen year old, I only need to go back nineteen years, nine months, and one day to realize there was a time when she wasn't. There was a time when there was nothing. There was nothing  of Girly Girl. And now, here she is, kicking sand along Goleta Beach with me, laughing, drenched by the glow of sunset, holding my hand and hugging me with the sheer joy of celebration and being alive together ... and that's where she came from: nothing. From nothing to this! Perhaps this is the supreme gift of fatherhood: getting first hand tangible proof of love coming from nothing. Or maybe it's the second supreme gift, Girly Girl  being the first. Maybe it's both.

Whatever it is, her life and her life in mine  is red-handed  evidence of what's possible when it comes to love and its power to shift realities, to overcome obstacles which at first seem insurmountable, to break through impossibilities  by allowing them to be, and then coming back to who we really are for each other: father and daughter Nothing can change it. No one can get in the way of it, or interfere with it. It's chiseled into the rock  now and for all eternity. That's the beauty of it: there's nothing to do to make it happen, or to ensure its persistence - it's just what's so.

This is the bottom line  we get, my darling Alexandra and I on her nineteenth birthday, laughing, kicking sand along Goleta Beach:

Go! Let a  beach be a beach.

Everything else follows.

Happy Birthday gorgeous Girly Girl.


Nearly two and a half years after I wrote this essay, I discovered the beach on which it was written is actually Isla Vista Beach, a beach adjacent to Goleta Beach, and not Goleta Beach.

The experience and expression of this essay are unchanged by this late discovery. But in the interests of total accuracy, all occurrences of Goleta Beach in it should read Isla Vista Beach instead.

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