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

In The Face Of Commitment

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

April 11, 2005

This essay, In The Face Of Commitment, is the prequel to Fight, Flee, Or Face Up (The Train Is In The Station).

It is the companion piece to It is also the first in a septology about my son Christian:
  1. In The Face Of Commitment
  2. Like Father
  3. From Stick Figures To IMAX 3D
  4. To Get Out Of A Rut, Be  In The Rut
  5. Christian Rocks!
  6. You'll Hear The Rumble
  7. Talk About It
in that order.

It is also the third in an octology on Commitment: It is also the first in a septology on Homes:
  1. In The Face Of Commitment
  2. Stellenberg Avenue
  3. Faery Cottage
  4. Creekside Cabin
  5. A House On Franklin Street
  6. Stripping It Down To The Studs
  7. The Amazing Cowboy Cottage
in that order.

It is also the prequel to The Amazing Cowboy Cottage.

I am indebted to my son Christian Laurence Platt who inspired this conversation.

Photography by Carl Monroe "CMC" Cheney

Napa Valley, California, USA
Christian Joshua Alexandra

In my life I earned good money, as much as two thousand US dollars for a six hour day sometimes, leading seminars for Fortune 1000 companies. I traveled literally millions of miles, some of them by hitching rides on freighters, over and around Planet Earth which I have circumnavigated completely. I lived for extended periods in exotic locations like the heart of the Amazon jungle and the Fiji Islands. I've been married twice. I'm a resident of five countries and a citizen of two. I've worked with computers since paper tape and punched cards were de rigueur, first learning how between midnight and 4:00am in the underground catacombs of Le Lido de Paris, a high class night _lub, home of Les Bluebelle Girls and arguably the most famous cabaret in the world. I was a pioneer surfer in the early '60s riding long boards and body surfing at now well known but then secret dream surfscapes like Cape St Francis, Seal Point, and Jeffrey's Bay. I was a radio DJ and a skydiver. As a member of a team I built a bridge to carry traffic over the Salt River gorge near The Crags in South Africa. I played a bit part in "Fortune Dane", a B-grade Hollywood movie starring Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed of the "Rocky" series) and Joe Dallesandro (of Andy Warhol's "Heat" and others).

Yet when it comes to satisfaction, excitement, fulfillment, joy, and the je ne sais quoi  that gets me up, no, drives  me out of bed in the morning, nothing - and I mean nothing  - comes close to my commitment to my three children.

Standing in my commitment I looked into empty futures and began inventing one worth living into. We needed a new place to stay, and we had exactly twenty one days to find it. I invented the possibility of a beautiful home - not like some place to go to on vacation but rather like a place where we would live as if on vacation every day. A simple place. A natural place. A peaceful place. A healing place. A fun, inspiring, creative place to be. And I set out to find it.

* * *

I walked the streets. I knocked on doors. I wrote down every suggestion and every referral I received. I rose early and bought the local classified newspapers, sitting in my car outside the 7-Eleven at dawn reading what was available and taking notes, then calling the renters on my cell phone requesting to come and see their offerings. And so it went for five straight days, fourteen hours a day. But no match. Nothing.

On the evening of the fifth day I needed a break. I took some time out from househunting which was becoming frustrating having failed to yield fruit. I decided instead to relax and shoot some pool with my son Christian. One of my goals is to coach Christian to play pool to the degree that he beats me. He's nearly there, having already mastered rail shots and back spins.

While driving with Christian to the local Marriott where we play pool, my cell phone rang. It was a realtor for whom I'd left a message five days earlier when I first started looking for a home. She said she had a great place for me. I noticed I had all kinds of judgements going on about her not calling me back for five days. And I didn't like the part of town she was describing. A voice in the back of my head said I shouldn't waste my evening out with Christian going to see it. Another voice was equally emphatic that I should. Almost against my own better judgement, I agreed to go and see the place and, apologizing to Christian and promising him that we would yet play pool later that evening, I made a U-turn and followed the realtor's directions to who knows what.

* * *

As we drew closer, I went into a kind of shock. We were in horse and cattle country. This was way beyond what I had imagined! The road meandered through paddocks edged with whitewashed paling fences. At the top of the driveway we entered was the most perfect cottage I have ever seen in my life. As if on cue, a huge golden full moon was rising, bathing the area in a celestial glow. On one side of the cottage was a hundred acre horse ranch. Horses ambled over to the fence to say hello to Christian and me. We fed them carrots. On another side was a three hundred acre cow pasture. No less than two yards from Christian and I, a herd of cows, bulls, and new born calves frolicked and grazed. In my mind's eye, I already saw us in that meadow flicking frisbees, tossing footballs, and flying kites once the cows had vacated.

Down the hill and off to the right was a rushing river, babbling audibly even from fifty yards away. We noticed ducks swimming lazily through its pools and eddies. There were no other signs or noises of civilization. The property was festooned with oaks and had a private vineyard. I had been in tears for about a half hour without even noticing it, overwhelmed by the joy and relief of discovering this paradise. I realized I was standing speaking with the realtor and our soon to be new landlord with tears streaming down my face. It didn't matter.

The cottage is fully furnished, has hundreds of channels on a large satellite TV, a hot tub, telephone, and will soon have high speed DSL internet access. There's a barbecue kettle and a private lawn and garden where the children can plant and tend their own flowers. The all inclusive rent seemed like it had one or two zeros too few on the end when I first heard it. Christian and I had found our new home.

In the face of commitment, whatever is needed shows up.

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