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's Never Going Back To Normal, Is The New Normal

Yountville, California, USA

November 5, 2020

She said she gets a certain leverage from looking at life transformed which she can then apply to accepting things the way they are, and the way they aren't. I got that, and I told her I liked what she was saying. And transformation may be even more intimate than that, I said - more immediate than derivatively applying leverage. I myself don't use transformation to leverage living. I don't use it to survive better. Things turn out the way they turn out, and they never turn out the way they never turn out. It turns out the way it turns out, no matter what leverage I apply. My leveraged intervention makes no difference*  even when I prefer that life should turn out some way other than the way it turned out. This is the way it turned out. And it never turns out any way other than the way it turns out. Never. Not once. Ever.

We live in interesting if not unprecedented times. You'd have to be alone on a desert island with no internet connection, to not know that. That's how my conversation with her began. There's a pandemic going on. There's political upheaval. There are serious concerns about climate change - as well as its catastrophic consequences. There are record numbers of people unemployed, and with them a financial crisis which affects us all such as we've not seen in recent times. And all of it started in the last few years and came to a head in 2020, a true annus horribilis  (Latin for "horrible year") as Queen Elizabeth II may have said. Our tendency / thrown-ness is to assume this is just an aberration, a blip on the radar which will soon pass, then once it's passed, things will go back to normal - at least that's our fervent assumption.

Actually the heart of the conversation with her wasn't whether it will go back to normal, or not. Look: it may never  go back to normal ... and it may. Remember things turn out the way they turn out, and they never turn out any other way, and that's  what normal is. Gee, I hope you get that! The take-away distinction from our conversation was that our preference  ie our hankering for it to go back to normal, is just that: a preference. But life never came with any promise or any guarantee to turn out the way we prefer. Life only came with a promise and a guarantee to turn out the way it turns out. We forget / ignore that (and at our own peril, I added).

With regard to it going back to normal, consider this: what was once considered normal, is now just a memory from the past, and the future will bring with it its own set of normals - some of which may not (and probably will not) be the same as any normal we've known until now. So it behooves us to not invest too much in the normal that once was, and in wishing / hoping / praying we're going back to it. Instead it behooves us to look closely at our very investment in it ie at our very attachment to what was once normal, and thus how we've ceded our power to be with new normals as they show up (ie as they inexorably will  show up) to the past.

If she wanted this conversation to be really useful to her, I suggested she should focus on what we've forgotten / ignored about what's normal in the first place. The experience of true normal is a function of accepting the way it's turned out (and the way it hasn't) and acting appropriately in accordance with it. That's what we've forgotten / ignored about what's normal. When I can be  with what's happening now, whatever it is, and act appropriately in accordance with it, that's  what makes normal (it's also very Zen). Normal's got nothing to do with my preference for or my attachment to how it once was. Normal doesn't traffic in the way I'd like it to be.

I shared with her my realization that it doesn't serve me to peg normal to the way it used to be. What's more powerful, is to be with normal as the way it is now (and the way it isn't now). If I peg normal to going back of the way it used to be, it almost certainly  guarantees disappointment. Instead, if I be with what turned out and interact with it appropriately, my life has the possibility of being transformed regardless of its circumstances ie regardless of the circumstances of any annus horribilis.

* Footnote: the paradox of making a difference:

Discovering what it takes to really make a difference, reveals a paradox in what it is to be human.

Things turn out the way they turn out. They never turn out any other way. No matter what I do or don't do, things turn out the way they turn out. In other words, what I do makes no difference.

When I get that what I do (writing these Conversations For Transformation) makes no difference and I do it anyway, it makes a difference.

That's the paradox. It's profound. Making a difference shows up only secondarily in what I do. Primarily it shows up in who I be.

Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2020 Permission