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




Go To The Beach

Muir Beach, California, USA

July 23, 2018



This essay, Go To The Beach, is the second in the open second group of Experiences Of A Friend (click here for the closed first group of thirty five Experiences Of A Friend):
  1. Friend, Partner, And Ally
  2. Go To The Beach
  3. Proof Of Life
  4. To Go Out Like A Supernova
in that order.

It is also the companion piece to Holiday Spectacular.




The beach has always been a special place for me, a power  spot, if you will. Yet it's obvious by the sounds of things it's not just me who loves the beach: everyone  loves the beach. It's universal. That may be inexplicable. But it's the truth: you can put it in the bank. I grew up a short distance from the beach. On occasion I was out surfing before sunrise, and sometimes until after dark. As a boy, Citizen Kane had his "Rosebud" sled; Laurence had his "McKean" surfboard. I've enjoyed sublime, extended sojourns living on the beach, close enough to the water's edge that at spring tide with the windows open, my living room got misty with salty seaspray.

Listen: there's a certain incontrovertible magic at play when you can go surfing at dawn a few yards from your front door, then put on a suit and tie and go to work at a well-paying high-tech job, then later strip down to shorts, and jog along white sands after work in the evening as you marvel at the sunset. That particular scenario gets my vote as the leading candidate for the definition of "pure luxury", if not of "ideal living". No, it's beyond that, actually: it's really magic, pure magic.

It's when I asked myself "Why do I love the beach and living on the beach?" that things got interesting (it's an inquiry). Sometimes when I love something, and I ask "Why?", it brings a certain cold intellectuality to the experience which detracts from it. It can even ruin it entirely. So most times when I love something (or someone) I never ask "Why?". I allow the experience of loving it (or them) to be enough. But in this case, I did pursue the inquiry. Surprised, I discovered what it reveals / leads to, is something arguably even more attractive, even more beautiful, even more worthwhile than the beach and living on one - as patently improbable as that sounds.

First, what the inquiry revealed: it revealed going to the beach is a beautiful, calm, relaxing experience (I won't flesh out "beautiful" / "beauty" and our attraction to it: it's unnecessary to go down that path in this conversation - perhaps in another conversation on another occasion). It's a getaway. And from time to time, we have it that we all need a beautiful, calm, relaxing getaway, yes? All of the above is why I love the beach and living on the beach. Second, what the inquiry led to: it led to the jarring realization that without the beach and living on the beach, I had no natural  access to a beautiful, calm, relaxing experience unless I took the time to get away  to go to the beach. In other words, without the beach and living on the beach, I'm trapped in my life, and unable to get away from the same-old-same-old-ness of it.

Fast forward. I've been assisting on Werner's Projects' Team at his home, the Franklin House, for ten hours or more a day, five days straight, the other team-members a little less - but not much less. Our project is massive, detailed, intricate. There's no margin for error. Then a few "little" errors get made. Each "little" error sets the project back hours or more. A few of them, and it'll be overdue. A few more, and we'll be dangerously late. Someone suggests we take (ie we need  to take) a break.

Enter Werner. At exactly this moment. From stage right, to front and center. We're not expecting him. But I'm not surprised he comes in at exactly this moment: it's who he is. He says loudly "Hello! I'm Werner" in that rich, deep, Philadelphian accent, beaming. His eyes meet mine, then everyone's. He gets it. All of it. Immediately.
Werner then says "OK, close your eyes. Now go to the beach.". Say whut!?  We're in the Franklin House with pressing work to do? We're in the landlocked Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco? We're nowhere near  the coast? I hold up my hand to ask my questions. I'm assuming  everyone else would appreciate their clarifications too. But everyone around me has already closed their eyes. So I close mine. Werner is saying "Now you're at the beach.". Ohhh  ...  I get it. Thus begins one of the most definitive (and tersest) trainings I've ever received in (the value of) creating my own experience. Eyes closed (in retrospect, they don't have to be - it just works better this way), we create the experience of going to the beach. It's a beautiful, calm, relaxing experience. I can feel the sand between my toes. I can hear the waves breaking. I can taste the salty seaspray on my tongue. It's a great getaway, a perfect  getaway from work. I'm rested, refreshed, and focused, re-energized.

After one or two minutes (they seem like hours), Werner says "OK, open your eyes. That's enough vacation. Now get back to work.". We do. We get back to work. There are no more mistakes. We complete the project, accurately - not just on time, but early.

The takeaway for me from that training, is more attractive, more beautiful, and more worthwhile than the beach and living on one - as patently improbable as that may sound: it's I have the power to create my own experience. Of anything. Anywhere. Any time I want to. I can even, in the midst of my same-old-same-old entrapped life, go to the beach. Any time I want to. And I don't have to get away to do it. Maybe it's time to rewrite the definition of "pure luxury", if not of "ideal living" itself.



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© Laurence Platt - 2018 Permission