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
Sonoma Valley, California, USA
March 9, 2008
"We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient
characteristic of Life is its coerciveness: it is always urgent,
here and now without any possible postponement. Life is
fired at us point blank."
... Jose Ortega y Gasset read out loud by
When I first ambled onto the American scene in 1976 I didn't realize
I'd missed a turn while walking innocently in the woods and was
strolling instead directly onto the gridiron in the middle
of play during the Superbowl.
a field painted with lines for American football
Try as I might, I couldn't reconcile my life as I wanted it to
be with the way it was really going. What I'd envisioned was
akin to a walk with nature, mindful and respectful of the surroundings,
educational, inspirational, exciting, making a contribution. What I got
instead was being bowled over and trampled underfoot by the rushing
scrum who were only doing what they should have been doing on the
gridiron, not alerted to nor mindful of my wayward wanderings.
It wasn't the gridiron's fault. And it wasn't any wonder I felt I was
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But later I came up with another
one which worked better for me as an explanation of what
was happening to me. I saw it was I who had the wrong idea
about the place I was in ... AND ... the place I was in
was the right place for me to be in at the right time.
Once you put yourself on the gridiron, you have to play. And the thing
is this: in life, it's all gridiron. Anyone like me who's
ever intentionally immigrated to these United States has a premeditated
sense of what we're coming to, and why. But like anything else that's
prejudged from afar with no real direct, intimate experience on which
to base sound judgement, my raison d'etre for coming here
was simply an
of what life might be like (hopefully), once I arrived.
as foundations for actions are at best risky, and they're especially
risky when used to fuel life altering decisions. Whatever it is I
imagined life in these United States may or may not be, once I arrived
here I was subject to the rules of the gridiron, whether I was familiar
with them ... or not.
with playing on the gridiron even before you've developed the
experience of a professional. How else do we learn? But playing on the
gridiron using a walk in the woods as the school of experience to draw
from can produce its own set of problems. One way to deal with such
problems is to develop a well thought out belief system
with the gridiron. The trouble with expounding
as a way to deal with problems on the gridiron is at best it's simply
an opinion, a variation of which everyone has. Having an
isn't an innovative strategy for effectively developing a move, for
powerfully leveraging a play. Opinions live in one domain. Strategies
for leveraging a play live in a different domain.
said to me
"Opinions don't forward
That's not an evaluation. It's a distinction. If you hear
it as an evaluation, you'll obfuscate something great. Let me clarify.
One of things I, an immigrant, have discovered gets lost on the
gridiron is the recognition of how great it is to have the right to
No, I'm not saying I place any value in opinions. That's
different. Personally I'm wary of all opinions: others',
yours, mine, especially mine. I am, however, saying it's
pretty darn great here where you have the right to express an opinion
if that's something you place value in, and you're
respected for it.
If you haven't spent any time in Cuba, Iran, or
it is to have this right may elude you. Yet once you realize the
it is to have the right to express an opinion, it's an act of greatness
to choose to devalue that right entirely for yourself, choosing
instead to distinguish who you really are prior to,
separate from, and paramount to your opinions. Opinions don't forward
the action. Who you really are does.
You could say, then, that the first adjustment for successfully playing
on the gridiron as opposed to merely frolicking in the woods is to
own that you put yourself in the game, that you didn't
merely get here
It's sometimes argued we don't have much choice being born
although many people do claim this choice. Even if you assert you had
no choice being born, if you find yourself on the gridiron, it's
you put yourself here.
The second adjustment for successfully playing on the gridiron as
opposed to merely frolicking in the woods is to distinguish between
opining about play as a strategy for success, as opposed
to bringing who you really are to bear on the play which
forwards the action. Opining lives in an individual's world.
Fowarding the action lives in the team's world.
Life isn't sitting in a diner next to a guy with an opinion and no
consequences over an omelet and hash browns. Life is on the gridiron.
Life is hardball.