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

Hiking In A Painting

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

November 28, 2014

This essay, Hiking In A Painting, is the companion piece to Driving In A Watercolor.

It is also the sixth in a group of fourteen written Out-Here:
  1. Out Here
  2. Out Here II: Out-Here
  3. Out-Here III
  4. Transforming Life Itself: A Completely Started Inquiry
  5. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  6. Hiking In A Painting
  7. Out-Here IV: Clearing For Life
  8. Something Bigger Than Oneself II
  9. To A Fault
  10. Where The Action Is
  11. Step Outside Your Head: A Call To Action
  12. More Than Being With The World
  13. It's Never Over There
  14. Life Is What's Happening
in that order.

It is also the sequel to Service: The Same Game Played In A Whole New Way.

There's no doubt about it: these are the  colors to wear. These are  the shades to dress up in. Yet no house of haute couture  can claim to have originated them. This is our first hike together through this meadow after the early winter rains provided enough water for any erstwhile dormant seeds to sprout, rendering the floor of this once scorched summer grazing lea to be covered with fine layers of mottled, grassy greens. And where there's no green foliage, there are empty spaces through which the rich soil shows, punctuating the landscape, complimenting the lush greens with clayey reddish browns. This logo  (if you will) should be emblazoned on my chest.

The color composition of any sweater, any cap, any skirt, any socks, any item of clothing or any furniture upholstery for that matter, woven in fabrics of these shades would be considered inspired. Yet here they are: seemingly discarded on the ground, left in the dirt (literally), having just happened this way by accident  (as we may say), to be stepped on, to be kicked aside, so easy to miss, so easy to be taken for granted ... and yet so miraculous, so gorgeously laid down, so divinely what's so.

But it's not only what's down (which is to say it's not only what's under our feet) which transfixes and rivets my attention ie which renders me spellbound. It's what's up  as well. The sky is festooned with cottonwool clouds between which the shining sun is seen - it's seen, that is, until a mild breeze blows a cloud or a veil of mist in front of it. There are blues and whites and grays, all interchanging, all blending together, all separating then becoming clear again as the clouds dissipate then re-form then dissipate then re-form again, as the sun is hidden then becomes visible again. Interchangeably it adds backlit gold and silver edgings to the clouds. If they're too thick or too opaque, they mute the light. But not for too long. As long as there is a breeze, they move, they spread out, they thin out. It is a canvas in constant flux.

It's an exercise requiring concentration. It requires concentration to not  take it all for granted. I ask her "If I gave you a very large canvas, all brushes you need, and any colors, any oils, any pastels you want, could you paint this?"  and I make a sweeping gesture with my outstretched hands to the lea below and the sky above. "No of course not" she says. I can tell she is also marveling quietly at this masterpiece we're hiking through. My point is gotten. It's not that we should or must or need to be able to paint what we see to validate it, to prove it. No of course not. What my point it is, is that we are so surrounded by it all the time throughout our frantic lives that unless we make a particular attempt not to take it all for granted, we will take it for granted and barely notice it. At best we say "Oh (ho hum), there's a color and there's another one and there's another" - that is, if we even notice them at all. We never say "Oh ... my GOD!  ... would ... you ... LOOK ... at ... these ... COLORS!!!".

It occurs to me as well, while this painting we're hiking in constantly changes, constantly morphs, constantly reveals more of its pristine, ineffable nature, that there is nothing we have to do to create it, rate it, judge it, or acknowledge it so it can be awesome like this, except to get out-here  and be with it. There is nothing we ever need to do for it to be perfect, scintillating, and magnificent except open our eyes and notice it's already  perfect, scintillating, and magnificent. And listen: it does not matter what's  going on. It doesn't matter what's going on either with us or with the world. It, all by itself, on its own, is always perfect, scintillating, and magnificent.

And if there's any concern that it isn't perfect, scintillating, and magnificent at any moment in time, if we tell the truth about it, then it becomes plain it's we  who see ourselves as less than perfect, as less than scintillating, as less than magnificent, and in so doing, transfer our less than perfect, scintillating, magnificent consideration of ourselves, over to it. We do that, don't we? We do that, and then we pretend we don't do that. We even lie about it, don't we? Stop lying about it. It's all out-here.

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