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


Bouchaine Vineyards, Los Carneros Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 22, 2009

This essay, Inexorable, is the third entry in The Laurence Platt Dictionary: The Laurence Platt Dictionary is the companion piece to A Certain Quality Of Communication.

This ten ton steamroller named "Helga", built in 1953 by Henschel, is one of the last steamrollers built in Europe. With a double crank compound engine, it is probably the fastest steamroller on the road - courtesy Preston Services, Kent, England "Helga"
Ten Ton Steamroller
Ah Life!

It's a steamroller ...

If you stand in its way, it's plain stoopid  hoping it'll notice you and avoid you. It'd be a tragic  mistake to expect it to considerately look out for you and stop in time just because you're walking there  (as "Ratso" Rizzo may have said). It's a steamroller, baby. It'll roll right over you.

It doesn't matter if you're a bad  person or a good  person. It doesn't matter if you're a nice guy. It especially  doesn't matter if you're a nice guy (or a nice gal). It doesn't matter if you say you've done nothing wrong. It's no use asserting your right of way  or your freedom of speech. If you stand in its way, even with the best of intentions, you're pancake.

Soon, if you're smart, you'll figure out it'll do whatever it'll do, no matter where you stand, regardless of your approval, with or without your consent, in spite of your opinions  to the contrary. Once you realize this, you may look for a better way to relate to it, a more pragmatic way to live with its cosmic indifference  other than being flattened by it.

For example, you could attempt to hop on board. You could adroitly step aside, like a matador  nimbly getting out of the way of el toro's  horns, as it rumbles inexorably  toward you. Then, at just the right moment, you could jump on board, up and into the driver's seat. It's still rolling along, of course, disinterested, uncaring, and regardless of whether you agree with its trajectory or not. But at least now you're in the driver's seat. At least now you're riding it. At least now it's not rolling over you. At least now you're not pancake.

While you're up there in the driver's seat riding it, you could even try grabbing the steering wheel and turning it in the direction you want to go. But attempting to steer this goliath, trying to turn this behemoth  is futile. You can turn the steering wheel to the left. You can turn it to the right. You could even, like a joystick, push it forward away from you, or you could pull it backward toward you.

It's no use. This steamroller goes wherever it  wants to go whenever it  wants to go there. The best you can do is simply go along for the ride ie sit back and enjoy it. And if you tell the truth unflinchingly  about your experience of steering, you'll notice your hands don't really turn the steering wheel at all. It's the other way around. It's the steering wheel which turns your hands as they grip it, whenever it  turns.

Are these your only two possible options? One, getting run over  by it? Or two, sitting back in the driver's seat enjoying the ride trying your best to look like you're actually steering it?

How about this option:

You could be  the steamroller. Now there's  a thought! You could take charge of it, in other words you could take control  of the steamroller by being  the steamroller. Actually that's pretty god‑damned  clever thinking: taking control of the steamroller by being  the steamroller. You could take control of it by owning  it. You could take responsibility  for it. You could include  it in your experience. You could assert "I declare you to be a steamroller, therefore you are  a steamroller. I create  you. I am  you!".

Sounds like a plan  ... but there's one poignant yet profound problem with this approach, and it's this: you're not a steamroller. You're a human being. You can be  a human being, but you can't be  a steamroller. You can recreate  a steamroller ie you can re-create it. But you can't be  a steamroller.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


continuing without any possibility of being stopped

The steamroller is rolling, baby, whether you approve of it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you understand  it or not, whether you think it's fair  or not, whether you're in front of it in imminent danger of being run over by it praying  it will somehow turn itself away from you just in the nick of time saving  you, or whether you've acrobatically, nimbly jumped into the drivers seat, your hands now gripping the steering wheel giving you an illusory sense of "I'm in control here!"  which you also hope  will be what others think of you.

But wherever you stand (in front of it, or on top of it), however you play it (as pancake, or as wannabe  driver), whatever you feel about it (it's unfairly victimized  you, or "You da Man!"  in control of it), the steamroller rolls along with you without you, continuing without any possibility of being stopped. It's inexorable.

So where does this leave you? How  does this leave you? I mean, really?  What else  is there? Is this really all there is?

Indeed, there may be no other options. Get run over by it. Or sit in the driver's seat and enjoy the ride. You decide. Either way, it  doesn't care.

In the realm of pre-existing  options, in the domain of obvious, no brainer  selections, you'd be a fool not to opt for sitting in the driver's seat enjoying the ride. Who wouldn't? Yet if you inquire deeper, upon closer scrutiny you'll notice both  these options are simply opposite sides of the same coin. Whichever side you select, getting run over, or sitting in the driver's seat enjoying the ride, it's an option based on survival, evaluated and weighed up in a closed, pre-existing  set of options which are automatically resolved inside the mindset of a pre-programmed lizard brain  instinct "kill, or be killed".

Aside from the pre-programmed lizard brain  instinct set of options you can select from to deal with ie to survive  the inexorable steamroller, I assert there's an authentic  choice you can make, a choice which doesn't exist  until you create it, until you source  it, until you literally speak it into existence.

It's the choice you authentically make to distinguish  it, to notice it, to grant being  to it, to allow it. Both options, getting run over by it, and sitting in the driver's seat even if you're enjoying the ride, obscure what Werner Erhard distinguishes as the "such-ness" of it, the "thus-ness" of it. Distinguishing the steamroller, noticing it, granting being to it, allowing it, let's it be. If I let it be, it  then in turn let's me be.

When the inexorable steamroller comes rumbling along the road, either rolling right over some unfortunates, or giving a great ride to the brave few who've managed to jump on board up and into the driver's seat, I'll call out loudly "Look! There's a steamroller.".

After it's rumbled on by, when people looking for it ask "Where's the steamroller?", I'll point down the road in its direction, and announce boldly "It's going that-a-way!"  ... inexorably ... continuing without any possibility of being stopped.

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