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

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Gratitude II

Exertec Health and Fitness Center, Napa, California, USA

June 22, 2018

This essay, Gratitude II, is the seventeenth in an open group on Possibility: It is also the second in the trilogy Gratitude:

Photograph courtesy
Classic Wooden Bagatelle
I'm grateful for so, so many people who have been (in a very real sense) bagatelle pins  in my life. By that I mean encounters with them spontaneously bounced me in new, discontiguous  directions, which put me here (quite literally) where I am today.

It's easier to see what's wrong (it's actually automatic  given we're hell-bent driven by survival) and to express outrage, than it is to express gratitude. Make no error: there's a lot about which it's appropriate to express outrage. Yet it's a terrible cost which comes with only seeing what's wrong, while staying blind to the possibility  of being grateful. And if you say being grateful isn't possible given the preponderance of what's wrong, then try practicing being grateful as an exercise ie as a discipline. It calls for something big from us to generate gratitude as a possibility. It's impact is huge. By that I'm referring to the space  it creates.

In this conversation, let's consider what it is to express gratitude and the space it creates, and not the usual expressing gratitude for  specific people and situations. There's enormous transformative power  in living life coming from  "I'm grateful.". "Grateful? For what?  Didn't you see the news?". No, that ain't it. It's "I'm grateful - period.". "I'm grateful" is a space from which to come.

If you take on the discipline of being grateful like a space, like a context ie like a possibility, your first try may be to start an inventory - like "OK, what is there which I can be grateful for?". That, if you tell the truth about it, reveals our ground of being  for gratitude (or at least it reveals a  ground of being for gratitude) as: without being grateful for  something, it's at best a non sequitur  to consider living coming from  gratitude; at worst it says we're grounded in not being grateful till something worthy of being grateful for, shows up.

Typically to escape this conundrum, we'll then try expressing something like "I'm grateful for Life and for being alive!". Yes, that's all-inclusive. But it's still a being grateful for  - albeit a big one. It's not simply being grateful period  - like a space, like a context, like a possibility from which to come.

The difference? It's really a matter of where I assign the power - which is to say it's really a matter of whether I'm willing to take responsibility  for the power. With "I'm grateful for  ...", it  (ie whatever it  is for which I'm grateful) is the source of the power. With "I'm grateful - period" like a space, like a context, like a possibility, I'm the source of power. In this regard, living from gratitude is akin to living from trust. How so Laurence? Like so: in the old model of trust, first you act trustworthy, then I trust you (in the old model of gratitude, first something to be grateful for shows up, then I'm grateful); in the new model of trust, first I trust you, and in the space of my trust, you act trustworthy (in the new model of gratitude, first I'm grateful, and in the space of my gratitude, things for which to be grateful, show up).

Try this on for size: isn't the dynamic of gratitude one of giving back, of making available who we really are in recognition and appreciation, yes? And remember, it doesn't have to be in recognition and appreciation of anything specific. It can be a space to come from, a possibility. Being grateful like a possibility, is to give who we really are to the world. It's a way of being when playing the game, a way of playing the game in recognition and appreciation of the privilege and the wonder of it all.

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