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

Images Of You

Pleasant Hill, California, USA

May 14, 2011

This essay, Images Of You, is the companion piece to Images Of You II.

It is also the twenty first 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
  31. The Stink Of Zen
  32. Sitting Quietly In A Room Alone
  33. Footsteps On Metal Stairs
so far, in that order.

I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick and to Christine Arbor who contributed material for this conversation.

To share an image of you, to share an experience  of you is to share an experience of transformation.

I could share hundreds  of such images of you, hundreds of my experiences of you - possibly thousands  if I include experiences others have shared with me. Instead I've chosen (at least for now) to share just these six.

Each shared experience of you is  transformation. And each shared experience of you is holographic. That is to say any piece  of each experience of you is transformation - all of it ... all of it, that is, if you're listening  all of it.

Why only six? No particular reason.

However, given my British roots, a six  in cricket is like a home run  in baseball. And each of these images of you are, in their own way, clean gone out of the park  home runs. There are six of them, and each of one of them is a six.

1: Carrying Chairs Up To The Attic

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

I'm standing at the bottom of the stairs, pausing while carrying chairs from the basement up to the meeting room in the attic. I've carried ten chairs so far from the basement, staging them on the landing at the bottom of the stairs to the attic. My plan is to carry all the chairs from the basement, stage them on the landing at the bottom of the stairs to the attic (phase one) then carry them all up the stairs to the attic (phase two).

It's not working. It's not because of my intention. My intention is good. The chairs are indeed moving from the basement up toward the attic. But all they're doing here on the landing is getting in everyone's way, blocking the landing. Not only that, but the chairs are of a style and shape which can only be carried one at a time - not very efficient. And even so, their interesting shape makes even carrying one chair at a time up the stairs an exercise in both navigation and  topology. I'm pausing to figure out what to do next - and how to do it.

A blur  comes out of the dining area at speed. As it breezes by me I realize it's you. You stop. You look at me. You look at the chairs blocking the landing. You look up the stairs to the attic. Then you grab a chair and run  up the stairs with it. Someone in the kitchen notices what's happening and calls out "Look! Lar has an assistant!"  ("Lar" is my nickname you gave me, from the Roman god of the house).

Something clicks  for me. I see the better way to stage the chairs so they won't get in anyone's way. Pretty soon, way faster than expected, I've carried all the chairs from the basement up to the attic where I arrange them so they work.

2: Face Out Of The Porthole

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

Another meeting is scheduled to be on a yacht moored in a nearby harbor. It's easy finding my way here. Where to park is also obvious. But that's as far as my directions are effective. I can't determine from them how to get to the yacht from the parking lot, or even which dock it's moored at. There are scores of docks and hundreds  of yachts. I have the name of the yacht. I also have the yacht captain's name - the name of the company employee I know who manages the yacht. But neither of them are doing me any good now.

I walk up and down the docks looking at each yacht's nameplate - first one dock, then another then another ... and the time is going by and I can't find the yacht. Pretty soon I realize I'm going to be late - even though I arrived in good time.

So I walk faster and faster, up one dock then down another and still I can't find the yacht. Now I'm running, and the docks are moving under my feet (they float on the water). I don't like being late - especially if I leave plenty of time to be on time. I'm getting frustrated as well.

There's nothing else I can think of doing at this point except call out the captain's name - loudly. Hopefully he'll hear me and come and get me. His name is John. I'm running past yachts, my feet banging on the docks, the docks bouncing  under my feet, and I'm calling the captain's name out loud "John!" ... "John!"  ... JOHN!"*

Then suddenly, just as I run by it, a porthole opens in the side of a yacht. Your face comes out of the porthole and you look at me straight in the eye. I'm right here, right in front of the yacht I've been frenziedly trying to find. You're right in front of me. I'm right in front of you.

You smile - a huge, bright, beaming 100 megawatt  smile. You don't say anything. I smile back, amazed and delighted. I don't say anything either. But my breath is heaving.

I walk up the gangway in time for the meeting.

* <aside>

Later when I play these events over in my mind, I recall you were baptized John Paul although you were born Jack and always called Jack.

When I called out "JOHN!" I was calling the yacht captain's name, the name of the company employee I know who manages the yacht. I didn't realize I was also calling for you. I didn't realize I was really  calling for you - until you showed up.


3: Midnight Snack

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

It's late. Well after midnight. Close to 2:00am in the morning actually. I'm cleaning up and putting things away. I'm alone. I'm not expecting you. But I'd be here anyway even if you weren't coming. It works for me to be here ... AND  ... I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't hoping  you'd show up.

So when you do  show up I shouldn't be surprised. But I am. I think I hear myself say to myself "Oh Wow!  ...". Indeed, I'm certain.

You fetch celery spears and cream cheese from the refrigerator, and sit down on a bar stool. "Have some!" you offer kindly, waving your upturned hand over the plates. I dry my hands off with a dish towel and sit with you on an adjacent bar stool.

The silence hangs thick and palpable in the air. You can cut it with a knife. It's not an uncomfortable  silence. Rather it's like a velvet  silence - which is sharply broken by your first "crunch"  into a spear of celery.

Your "crunch" is so loud and so sudden, I'm startled. It may be your intention to startle me, to wake me up. Maybe. I can't say for sure. Intentional or not, your "crunch" starts a conversation at 2:00am in the morning, a conversation between just the two of us midnight snacking on celery spears and cream cheese, a conversation which eventually becomes the transformation of South Africa.


True story.

4: Rose In A Vase

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

This image of you, Rose In A Vase, is already preserved in the essay Werner's Space. However it's of such a jaw-droppingly wonderful  moment that I just must  recreate it again here.

Rose In A Vase, goeswith  the image Nametag (as Alan Watts may have said). But they're unrelated.

You're speaking with an intimate group of about a thousand people. You're sitting on a tall folding canvas director's chair, one leg tucked under you, the fluid movements of your arms underscoring points you're making. In front of you is a music stand with some notes. Next to you on the podium is a small table with nothing on it except a single long stemmed rose in a plain glass vase. Very austere. Very minimalistic. Very Zen. The crowd is totally silent, hanging on your every syllable.

A bold sweeping gesture of your hands for emphasis ... and the rose in the vase slowly overbalance and fall to the podium floor. The vase doesn't break although the water in it is quickly absorbed by the carpet and disappears.

You stop in mid-sentence. You turn to look at the rose and the vase on the podium floor. Two thousand eyes in the room follow yours. My eyes follow yours. Everyone is looking at the rose and the vase on the podium floor. Three seconds tick by. Total silence.

You stand up off the director's chair. You kneel down on the podium floor. You carefully pick up the rose and the vase and you intently set them back in place - just so  ... the rose in the vase on the table next to the director's chair behind the music stand.

The room erupts  into applause. It's a prolonged standing ovation.

* * *

At first I don't understand why. Later I do. Unbeknownst to me, that was the first time I was present to who you really are.

5: Nametag

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

This image of you, Nametag, is already preserved in the essay Nametag: A True Story. However it's also of such a jaw-droppingly wonderful moment that I just must recreate it again here too.

Nametag goeswith  the image Rose In A Vase (as Alan Watts may have said). But they're unrelated.

I'm watching you from the back of the room. Standing behind a table, my left hand casually in my slacks pocket, I have my right foot up on the table top, my right elbow on my raised knee, my chin resting on my fist, my eyes locked on yours, your speaking and my listening in a dance together, transformation by osmosis.

Your nametag falls to the floor. You don't seem to notice. You continue generating the conversation.

I start toward you to retrieve it - but a girl closer to you than I am bends down, picks it up, and hands it back to you. You acknowledge her with a smile. Yet you don't reach out to take it.

This graphic is perfectly level. An optical illusion sets it atilt.
She says "Werner, you dropped your nametag.".

You say "You keep it.".

She says "I can't. It's not my name.".

You say "That's OK. I made it up. You can too.".

She says (after a pause) "Are you kidding me?".

You say "Do you think I would lie to you?".

She says (slowly, incredulously) "You mean  ... your  ... name's  ... not  ... Werner?"

You say "No, it's Jack.".

* * *

I don't know how  and I don't care why  but the exchange in this image of you gives me a completely new, authentic, free, joyful  access to telling the plain, simple truth.

6: The Note

Image by Wernher Krutein / - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - Sunday afternoon March 11, 1979

I've traveled nearly three thousand miles to be here, to listen you share for the first time a breakthrough in transformation.

The place is packed. Upstairs, downstairs, loge, mezzanine. It's standing room only. I can sense you approaching the venue. I don't know how. I just can. I imagine  you walking in the stage entrance, down corridors, up stairs ... and just when I imagine you walking into the hall, here you are  exactly on time walking into the hall. The crowd stands and applauds wildly in acknowledgement. You don't begin immediately. Rather, you walk among the people, shaking hands, hugging, saying hello.

A woman who seems distraught shoves her way through the crowd toward you. I hear her shouting something angrily - over and over again. She puts me on edge. I'm concerned (it's a safety issue (for you) for me).

She manages to get her hand on to your shoulder, nearly stumbling and falling against you in doing so. It seems rough and inappropriate. But you stop and be with her, exchange a few words, smiling. Now she's smiling too. The distraught look is gone. She gives you something. It looks like a folded piece of paper. What is it? A‑Ha!:  it's a note. You put it in your pocket without looking at it. You turn and stride purposefully toward the podium. The woman is swallowed up behind you by the crowd.

The presentation begins. It's leading edge transformation. It breaks wide open what's possible for being for human beings. It's one of the most powerful presentations I've ever listened you deliver. And one of the most powerful aspects of it is you're not simply speaking  with this huge crowd - and even if you were, it would be an awesome accomplishment. This huge crowd isn't simply listening  you - and even if they were, it would be an awesome accomplishment. It takes me a while to realize what's actually going on here  is in your speaking with them and in their listening you and in your listening them and in their speaking with you, you're making love with this huge crowd and this huge crowd is making love with you.

That's what's actually going on here. Some things I recognize because I've seen them before. Other things I recognize, yet I've never seen them before. How is this possible? Because they're from who I really am. Because they're from who we really are. That's how I know. That's how we know. This occasion is such an occasion.

Five hours go by (or is it six? or is it eight? or is it eleven?). You leave the podium for a break. The world which existed before this event began, exists no more. This is the start of something completely new.

The crowd parts to let you leave. People are applauding. It's cohesive applause now - powerful, not wild as it was in the joy of the start of the event.

And as you walk through the parting crowd to leave, you reach into your pockets, looking for something. I wonder what you're looking for. You pull out the woman's note on the folded piece of paper. You open it as you walk. Head down looking at it, you read it as you walk. I watch you still reading it as you exit the hall through the far door - flanked by the huge crowd of people, standing back respectfully, letting you pass, applauding.

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