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

Interesting Interested Lady

Marin County, California, USA

May 15, 2008

"Interesting people are interested."  ... 
This essay, Interesting Interested Lady, is the third in a quintology inspired by Dorothy:
  1. The Heart Of Werner's Work
  2. Dorothy, I Have A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore
  3. Interesting Interested Lady
  4. Zen Gardener
  5. God Is In His Heaven And Everything Is Right With The World
in that order.

She's ninety eight years old today. It's her ... ninety  ... eighth  ... birthday! She's all there. She's all present. She's lucid. Clear. Witty. Erudite. Intelligent. Bright. Attentive.

I ask her if she ever thought this day would come when she was a little girl five years old. She ponders the question for a moment, then answers "No I didn't.". Then she adds, almost as an afterthought, "Besides which, I still  don't know how old I am.".

It's a sentiment she's echoed before. It's how she be's  about her age, how she always be's  about her age. Given it's her ninety eighth birthday, it's a remarkable statement, just as remarkable as any time she's uttered it on previous birthdays.

At ninety eight years old, it's expected she'd have one or maybe three things going on about her body. But your compassionate, sympathy  / empathy  heroic listening mode isn't required around this  spring chicken. She never talks about anything she's got going on with her body at all - unless you ask her. And if you do ask her if she's got anything going on with her body, she simply states what it is, then moves on to the next topic of conversation. There's not one iota  of complaint. Whatever's going on with her body is simply what's so. For her, it's completely ordinary - like the weather, or the result of the Raiders  game, or driving directions into the city.

I want to know if she's got a secret. Her alacrity  exceeds that of people people a quarter of her age. So I ask her what's kept her alive for so long. I don't actually like the way that sounds, but it's the best way I can think of to ask her what's her secret for her extraordinary longevity and unflagging aliveness.

She says "I'm interested in Life. I'm always finding something new in Life that's interesting to me, a new flower blooming, a tree, a hummingbird flying backwards (how do they do  that?) ..."

"... and you're interested  in them, so they keep your aliveness out here  in Life. They keep you  out here in Life ..." I complete the sentence for her, with her, smiling, nodding, totally getting it, being amazed with her, by her.

She's interesting  to me. What I get is she's interested. That's why she's so alive. I don't get this in the part of my awareness I call my cliché closet. This isn't merely bon mots, pithy feel good  couplets of syllables adorning the scrolls inside Chinese fortune cookies. Quite to the contrary, there's real profundity and power in what she's saying. What she's saying is it's her keeping her awareness out here in Life which keeps her out here in Life.

Given she's a ninety eight year old spring chicken postulating this extraordinary, breakthrough, maverick  way of being, who's to argue with her? How do you spell   l i v i n g   p r o o f ?

QED  ie Quad Erat Demonstrandum.

We start into a loosely knit, spontaneous conversation about mothers. I share with her how my relationship with my own mother has been totally transformed out of my friendship with her. She shares with me how her mother is her inspiration for her great independence, for her ability to stand alone  yet not in isolation. We soon get to talking about Mother Teresa, and eventually the conversation turns, inevitably, to Mary, Mother of God.

I say to her "I know exactly what you've given the world. I'm very clear  what you've given the world.". In honor of all mothers, in honor of my  mother, and specifically in honor of her as a mother, I say to her "You do get, don't you, that it's really You  who's the Mother of God?".

It's dangerous talk. It completely violates widely held cherished belief systems. She gets it. Or rather, spoken with rigor, she acknowledges she already got it. I'm not coming up with anything new. I'm not coming up with anything she doesn't already know.

She smiles a sweet smile, a beautiful smile, a smile from a distant faraway place where great wisdom is born, a smile from right up close, from right out here in the world to where her interests have kept her coming back for nearly ten decades and counting.

We embrace. I hug her - very carefully. Indeed, it's possible to hug a ninety eight year old lady too  tight.

"Happy Birthday My Friend. I Love You!" I say to an interesting interested lady.

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