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

It Comes Right After "So What?!"

ButterCream Bakery & Diner, Napa, California, USA

January 12, 2020

"SO WUT" ... personalized California license plate on a dark chocolate brown 1972 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL sedan owned by Werner Erhard ("SO WHAT" was taken)

"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent." ... Stanley Kubrick

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."  ... Gloria Steinem
This essay, It Comes Right After "So What?!", is the fourth in a septology inspired by the distinction Empty And Meaningless: It is also the sequel to So What.

There's a moment everyone's gone through - that is, everyone who's experienced the onset of transformation in their lives. Going through this moment is analogous to going through a travel hub (if you will): you have to go through it en route (so to speak) to transformation - much like Dallas / Fort Worth is a hub you have to go through en route to wherever your destination is (especially if you fly American Airlines). It's said if you want to get to heaven, you have to change planes in Dallas.

You could also think of this moment as a terminus. That's where an old way of life ends. Indeed it may work better to think of this moment as a terminus and not as a hub after all. What's the difference between thinking of it as a hub and a terminus? It's this: the onward journey from a hub is known, even pre-planned, but if there's going to be an onward journey from a terminus, you have to recalibrate, re-choose, and intend it newly.

The moment I'm talking about is when you realize that even with all the heartache and pain, even with all the drama and melodrama, even with all the unrealized aspirations, dashed hopes, disappointments, and snot en trane  (Afrikaans for "snot and tears"), none of it means  anything, that there's no significance  to any of it - in a phrase, it's when you realize it's all empty and meaningless. That's truly a hard sell for us humans beings, especially given that we crave meaning and significance even more than we crave oxygen. I mean, look at us: for how  many millennia have we engaged in the search for the meaning of life?  (spoiler alert: there is none).

Existentialism stopped at "It's empty and meaningless" leaving us in an impossible-to-resolve situation: how do we square "no meaning" with our belief machinery that craves meaning?  Werner Erhard in a brilliant stroke of genius, resolved it with one more step: "It's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless"  which leaves us free to create something powerful, original, joyful, even elegant against the background of life's emptiness and meaninglessness, the erstwhile showstopper.

Coming from wisdom, there's a certain mature response to almost any complaint about life which is predicated on the insinuation that whatever the complaint is about, means  something - or should  mean something. It's a response that cuts to the chase of life's emptiness and meaninglessness. That response is this: "So What?!".

"So What?!" is neither unkind nor callous although at first, it's likely to be taken that way. What it is, is ruthlessly compassionate. It has to be - else it's not getable. And to share with a meaning addict that there's no resolution in meaning, requires ruthless compassion - just as sharing with an alcoholic that there's no resolution in alcohol, requires ruthless compassion. With ruthless compassion, it's getable even if it's met with incredulity, disbelief, resistance, or anger. But as it sinks in, a moment of transformation comes. It's a gateway to (and the possibility of) being powerfully creative in the face of emptiness and meaninglessness, the erstwhile showstopper.

Look into your experience, and you'll see such a moment. It comes right after "So What?!". What was there for you immediately after the first time someone wise said to you "So What?!"? What was there for you just after you realized (with likely chagrin) that "So What?!" was ruthlessly compassionate, even kind? I assert what was there for you was a new space, a new opening for action, a new possibility. What you saw was the possibility of being transformed against the background of life's emptiness and meaninglessness, the erstwhile showstopper. And life being the way it is, the choice was yours to make, when and even if you stepped up to it at all.

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