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

Imprints Of Love

Napa Valley, California, USA

Fourth of July, 2018

"We all have relationships, and if you can complete your relationship with your parents, you can have incredible relationships, magical relationships, miraculous relationships." ... 
"What's love got to do with it?" ... Tina Turner
This essay, Imprints Of Love, is the fifteenth in a group of twenty three on Parents: It is also the twelfth in a group of sixteen written on the Fourth Of July:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Independence Day
  3. I'd Rather Be With Me
  4. Do It For Nothing
  5. The Only Way Out Is Through
  6. Under All Circumstances
  7. Word Power
  8. When There's Nothing To Say
  9. The Possibility Of Being Independent And Free
  10. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  11. What Goes On
  12. Imprints Of Love
  13. Bookends: A Reflection On Mortality
  14. Come Back To Being
  15. Nobody Is Responsible Except You
  16. Like A Monk In A Cave
in that order.

I am indebted to my children Alexandra Lindsey Platt and Christian Laurence Platt and Joshua Nelson Platt who inspired this conversation.

We were talking, concerned, about a family member who's prone to bouts of depression: multi-week-long episodes that strike without warning, sometimes in the midst of optimal (even enviable) circumstances during which she withdraws completely, doesn't respond to any communications, and in which her aura turns black (that's figuratively speaking). Although we're concerned for her because she's family, her malaise  is by no means limited to our family. It's widespread. It's to be found in all walks of life. It knows no cultural boundaries or class limits. Even the great Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill languished under its grip, calling it "the black dog".

Photograph courtesy Associated Press

Hackensack River, Hackensack, New Jersey USA

Wednesday June 12, 2002
Baby goslings paddle after their Canada goose mother
Without righteously implying this is the  solution, consider the following four-part schematic which gets to the heart of the simplest of causes of such pernicious problems. Notice we're thrown, by the way, to dismiss simple views of complex issues. I invite you to set aside that thrown-ness for now, to get beyond it, and to consider this view anyway. Be open-minded.

1)  Temporarily overlooking all the automaticity  that's involved, children love their parents (or whomever they identify their parents to be) from birth, possibly from even sooner.

2)  Partly because they love them, mainly because they don't know better, they learn it all from them, that is to say they identify with everything they do, taking it on as their own;

3)  Parents have both workable as well as unworkable behavior (parents are human beings, yes?). Children, not knowing any better, driven by love, don't differentiate between their parents' workable behavior or their unworkable behavior when they identify with it.

4)  What gets in the way of adults purging unworkable behavior like depression etc, is one, it's entrenched, and two, since it was originally taken on out of love for their parents, purging it occurs as a betrayal  of their parents and of their love for them ie as a violation of the automaticity. They're stuck with unworkability. It's held in place, ironclad, by love.

A solution ie a breakthrough  comes from simply differentiating between behavior that works, and behavior that doesn't work, then looking to see if you're willing to drop the behavior that doesn't work, regardless of its origin. That's a pragmatic solution, not just for depression but for a plethora  of unworkable inherited behaviors.

In totality, I'm asserting that depression may be rooted in behavior imprinted  from parents as an act of love  for which there's no blame. The fact that it's imprinted as an act of love makes it almost impossible to get free of it. Freedom from depression, or at least a considerable chunk of that freedom, begins with being willing to renounce any and all unworkable behaviors you took on from your parents, even those you took on as acts of love, simply because (ie for no other reason than)  they don't work. Look: children love their parents regardless, so that's the beginning of laying down new pathways in the brain, pathways in which depression doesn't grip.

I've urged my own now adult children to examine all behaviors they took on from me and their mother ie especially  from me, and if they're unworkable, to drop them immediately and unceremoniously. For my children, that would simply be pragmatic - oh, and smart, very  smart. By renouncing any and all unworkable behaviors they took on from us, they're neither betraying us nor their love for us. They're actually honoring the possibility of who we all really are. Love's got nothing to do with it.

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