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


A Pre-Possibility

Oak Creek At Silverado, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 8, 2020

"Then he waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next.
But he would think of something."
... Arthur C Clarke embodying Star-Child, in the closing words of the grand finale of "2001: A Space Odyssey"
This essay, Junction: A Pre-Possibility, is the companion piece to

Before anything happens, someone says something. Before someone says something, nothing happens. Before nothing happens, there's ... well ... nothing. And being in nothing is an interesting place to be. What's most inexplicable about it is our on-automatic thrown-ness to not be here in this place. And I'm in it now for sure, my children having all left the area, so there's a huge  lessening in what I "gotta" do. And it's been a long  time since I had the freedom to consider what I "wanna" do. "Gotta" do, and "wanna" do, aren't always the same or co-incident or compatible. And to get from "gotta do" to "wanna do", you have to pass through ... nothing.

Wait! Surely "doing  nothing" is an oxymoron? Even though we may say we're "doing nothing", we're almost never doing nothing. Doing nothing is at best a transient place to be, a fleeting place. Before Werner, it seemed to be the lot of us human beings to catch only occasional glimpses of ourselves doing nothing. Yet as rich, as full, and as magical as the moments those glimpses reveal, what we have even more of, are glimpses of life as it's really lived day to day, in which doing nothing is constantly overshadowed with the business of the day, with the trivia we take on to make our lives work - and that's not taking into account the swathe of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that constantly erupt, flow, and swirl like leaves agitated by a windstorm. We all know (we've all tasted) the healing power of nothing. In spite of that, human beings aren't set up to easily access it. That's what a great deal of what Zen purports to be and do, is: accessing "nothing". Oh? Like how, Laurence?

Essential Zen, Werner shares, reveals that when you do what you do while you're doing it, you're doing nothing (when the experience is itself, it's nothing). That's the  breakthrough if you're to access nothing (and do nothing). Yes it's a paradox: doing nothing isn't necessarily doing nothing. Contemplate that for a moment. There's nothing. Then there's doing nothing (interim doing nothing). Then there's doing what you do, yet unfreely. And then there's doing what you do while you're doing it (ultimate doing nothing). Those are (if you will) my four degrees of doing nothing. And it's the third one which I'm in the middle of inquiring into in my life right now.

Soon, for the first time since 1988 when I moved to the wine country, northern California's Napa Valley, all my three children will have moved on in their lives and left the area. It will be the first time in thirty two years I won't have family in the area. More pertinently, it will be the first time in thirty two years I won't have family I'm supporting and for whom I'm responsible, in the area. I have (literally) nothing to do. And it's a daunting prospect! Sure, there'll be the next thing soon enough. There always is. But for now, for the first time in thirty two years, there's nothing I gotta  do. And I'm starting to notice the way I'm thrown with regard to doing nothing.

My thrown-ness is to avoid doing nothing (interim doing nothing) and fill the space with stop-gap activities to inoculate myself from it - anything  but to experience nothing for what it is. And given there's nothing I gotta do, I get this is a real chance to experience nothing and to do nothing. Yet what I'm discovering is it's oddly, surprisingly hard to do nothing, and not be thrown to avoid it, and to fill the space with trivia. If there's nothing I gotta do, then this surely is a good time to really experience and get to know doing nothing (the Zen of it) while looking into what I wanna do next. For thirty two years, all my attention has been on the former, during which time the latter came into the picture so infrequently as to have left me almost totally out of touch with it, unpracticed at it, unfamiliar with it - strangely.

I'm now at a junction, a place in my life where two paths are meeting, the two paths being the "gotta" path (now ended) and the "wanna" path (not yet started). After all these years of "gotta", "wanna" is strangely elusive (no surprise there, really: I've not been looking at it much - until now). This junction is at best a pre-possibility.

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