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


How Do You Spell The Sound A Ratchet Makes?

Atlas Peak Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

October 20, 2012



This essay, How Do You Spell The Sound A Ratchet Makes?, is the companion piece to A House On Franklin Street.

It is also the twenty ninth in an open group Encounters With A Friend:
  1. Showing Up
  2. Poet Laureate
  3. A Man In The Crowd
  4. Real Men Cry
  5. A Different Set Of Rules
  6. Nametag: A True Story
  7. Half Life
  8. Waiting On You
  9. Erotica On Schedule
  10. A House On Franklin Street
  11. NeXT
  12. Reflection On A Window
  13. Here And There
  14. How To Enroll The World
  15. Demonstration
  16. Two Of Me II: Confirmation Not Correction
  17. Holiday Spectacular
  18. Hello! How Are Things Going For You?
  19. Regular Guy
  20. A Scholar And A Gentleman
  21. Images Of You
  22. With Nothing Going On
  23. Where No One Has Gone Before
  24. Attachment: Causeway Between Islands
  25. If You're Not Then Don't
  26. Images Of You II
  27. Living Where Life Is
  28. Create Me The Way I Am
  29. How Do You Spell The Sound A Ratchet Makes?
  30. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
so far, in that order.




He steps out of the Mercedes  in one seamless fluid motion. First, he's in the car but not yet stepped into the garage ... then he's out here, fully present in the garage. There's no in between. It's a rapid segue from not here  to here, from is not  to is, from not present to present. It's quite extraordinary how with it, the garage, already well lit, lightens up. It's so sudden that I want to look around to see if someone has turned on another light - or, with a rheostat, has turned an already on light, up brighter. But it's not that. It's simply his now presence which lightens up the garage by an extra few hundred lumens - as stoopid  as it sounds.

He towers  in the low-ceilinged garage. In this confined space you can get how tall  he really is: six feet, and then some. He's beaming, the ear to ear smile which famously lights up stadiums. It's the kind of beam which expresses greetings, happiness, glad to be here, and no doubt the fulfillment and satisfaction of whatever the ongoing project he's engaged with and committed to, is. However, to explain  his beaming is to diminish it. He's not beaming because  anything. He's just ... well ... beaming. It's how he shows up. It's just who he is.

His dress is at once decidely formal yet incredibly relaxed. He's wearing a loose fitting perfectly tailored white cotton business shirt, a black sleeveless vee neck  cashmere sweater, black slacks impeccably pressed showing perfect creases, and his just right  black Ferragamo loafers polished to a mirror shine. By now, the driver of the car, an aide, and two other people who were in the car with him, have all stepped out into the garage and are animatedly engaged with him in whatever conversation was going on as they drove in. Yet when he sees me, he immediately stops talking with them, and says "Hi Lar!"  in that rich, deep, Philadelphian accent ("Lar"  is his term of endearment for me - from the Roman god of the house).

I pause what I'm doing to greet him. I'm tidying shelves, closets, and floor space. The shelves, closets, and floor space are already pretty impeccable, mind you. What I'm doing is the impossible:  I'm making them more  impeccable than they already are. I'm secure in his presence. So my acknowledgement of him being here is to turn sideways on to him, rather than have my back to him. I don't need to tell him what I'm doing: it's quite obvious. Furthermore, the work I'm doing is neither for pay nor is it for acknowledgement. It's work that's its own reward. There's no other place I know of where I can do work like this. This is a Zen monastery - which is within his  monastery. Here's what I mean by this: the world  is his monastery, so his house - and now within it this, its garage, in particular - is a Zen monastery within his monastery.

He stands there watching me work. He still hasn't re-engaged in conversation with the people who drove in with him. And then ... he closes his right hand to a fist, bends his right elbow pulling his fist back towards his chest in an unmistakable gesture. It's as if he's pulling back on a lever, the kind a machinist would pull back on to control a certain function of a machine. And as he pulls back on this lever, he makes a sound. His lower jaw juts forward, his cheeks pull upward on the sides of his face as the sound comes from deep in the back of his throat. The sound he makes is immediately  identifiable to me. It's completely recognizable. It's ... well ... how do you spell the sound a ratchet makes?

He's making, perfectly, the sound a ratchet makes. He's recreating the rapid click click click  sound the teeth on the cogs of a ratchet make as they pass in one direction only  over the tongues of their braking mechanism which prevents them from sliding back. The sound of the ratchet he's making, perfectly, (and how do  you spell the sound a ratchet makes? - if I knew, I'd write it here ...) is clearly, totally, and unambiguously communicating "Tighten it up Lar! Tighten it up.".

Tighten it up Lar! It's not a criticism: it's agreement. It's an acknowledgement. It's more than that actually. It's coaching. It's coaching for life ie it's coaching ... for ... Life!  Keep it tight. Keep it simple. Keep it impeccable. Keep it immaculate. Keep on doing what you're doing. Keep up the good work. And it's all nonverbal silent communication  - except for his sound a ratchet makes. I can't even spell the sound a ratchet makes. But when he delivers nonverbal silent communication embedded in his sound a ratchet makes, I hear it ... loud and clear. I get it: "Tighten it up Lar! Tighten it up.".

And then, as suddenly as he arrives, he's gone. The garage is empty again. I'm here ... by ... my  ... Self. My project is complete. I've left all surfaces neat, clean, tidy, indeed impeccable and immaculate. Before I leave I turn out the light, plunging the garage into darkness. That's when I notice although the light is out, the garage is still bright like a few hundred lumens - as stoopid as it sounds.



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