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




Just Show Up

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, California, USA

February 2, 2018



"Just show up." ... 
This essay, Just Show Up, is the sequel to Showing Up.



This conversation began with what I would (in retrospect) eventually come to regard as one of the pivotal events in my life. It qualifies for the descriptor "pivotal" because it was a living, breathing encounter with transformation as it's really lived in the world  - not just as a theoretical, intellectual explanation, concept, or interpretation of it (in today's vernacular, it was a living, breathing encounter with transformation on the court  - not transformation in the stands).

In the very moment it happened, I knew (I mean I instantly  knew) a powerful opportunity had discontiguously presented itself to me. But the truth be told, I didn't get its full profundity at the time (that would come much later). What I did get however, lived with me for many years, its impact growing ie its possibility  expanding inexorably as if all by itself, and so subtly that most of the time I was unaware it was happening. Then, almost two decades  ago (it was nearly eighteen and a half years after the original incident occurred), the opportunity re-appeared vividly in my life, taking me by the hand, demanding  I write it down. I did, documenting what happened in an essay titled Showing Up. Showing Up is one of the shortest essays I've ever written (if not the  shortest essay I've ever written) in this Conversations For Transformation internet series of essays. Yet with all that said, its brevity is a disproportionate match for its power ie for what that encounter unleashed.

This is what happened:

I was talking with Werner in the kitchen of his San Francisco home, the Franklin House, about something I'd planned for a group of people. I was sharing all my considerations and all my fears: this  might happen, that  might happen, what if I can't do such and such, what would happen if ... na na na  ... you know, the whole dang thing  (I had it on automatic).
Werner looked at me and said three words: "Just show up.".

I don't remember what I said in response. I do remember being (as it's said colloquially) blown away. By what? It was as if a portal opened wide  had suddenly, magically appeared in my fortress of solitude  in which heretofore only ice walls were possible. With those three words "Just show up", he completely recontextualized  (I love  that word) all the frenzy, all the confusion, all the uncertainty, all the "What the heck do I do now?"  which occur in the domain of trying to figure it all out, and dropped them squarely into the realm of being  ie into the realm of presence  - which is to say into the possibility  of being ie the possibility of presence.

As the author of these Conversations For Transformation, with by now at least a modicum of experience in wrestling with this sort of distinction, I'm all too aware that there's a pernicious trap in attempting to provide a meaning  or an explanation  for "the possibility of being ie the possibility of presence" for someone who's trying to figure it all out. The trap is that in attempting to provide a meaning and / or an explanation, the likelihood of any real  being and / or of any real presence showing up, is reduced to zero (dun't esk  ... it's just that way). That's why I invite you instead to interact with this distinction ie to try it on for size, and to discover it for yourself. Try on (by asking yourself) "What occurs differently for me when I'm trying to figure it all out (in any situation), than when I'm just showing up  (in any situation)?".

It's easy to get stuck trying to come up with the right  answer. Rather, just sit with the question in your lap like a hot brick  and instead see if you can get out of your own way  long enough to allow many, many  possible answers to come up. A good question may indeed be one which gets the right answer. But a great  question (as Werner may have said) is one which gets lots and lots and lots  of possible answers. A great question may also generate lots of "Yeah, but  ..."s as well as many more answers to "How about ...?"s and "What if ...?"s. Here's one of the lots and lots and lots of answers which came up for me: when I'm trying to figure it all out, what's available to me is the finite set of options I've already tried, whereas when I'm just showing up, what's available to me is the infinite space of all possibilities. Wow!

This is what's great about this distinction: it's just possible that showing up (ie "showing up" the way Werner distinguishes it) is really all that Life requests of us. It's showing up not like merely entering physically  into the situation (for which, if I tell the truth about it, I can only barely  take credit for). Rather it's showing up as being present like a possibility. It's showing up as bringing who I really am  to bear on the situation (for which, if I tell the truth about it, only  I can take credit for).

That, in any situation or circumstance (with the underline, with the emphasis, with the stress on the qualifier "any")  is the litmus test  for the presence of authentic transformation: did who we really  are just show up?

"OK we got  it Laurence" you may say, "but what about all that circumstantial stuff  that was there for you to deal with? You know, there were all the considerations, there were all the fears, there was all the this might happen, there was all the that might happen, there was all the what if I can't do such and such, there was all the what would happen if ... na na na  ... you know, there was the whole dang thing  you were dealing with which you asked Werner about in the kitchen originally.".

Well? What about  it? Showing up (ie "showing up" the way Werner distinguishes it) doesn't change any  of that. It doesn't change any of my circumstances. It doesn't relieve me of their burden. It doesn't void my responsibility for them. Neither does it negate my ownership of them. And it certainly  doesn't make them any easier  to deal with. What it does  do is it brings forward who I really am, which directly affects the impact my being has on my life. In addition, showing up gives me creative say in my choice of possibilities for being, and therefore it empowers the way I live my life, and the way I deal with any and all my circumstances.

Man! I'll make no bones about this: that  inspires me. You and I will be dealing with stuff forever ie we'll be dealing with the whole dang thing until we die (I'm sorry, there's really no way of avoiding its domination). What showing up (the way Werner distinguishes it) brings with it, is the possibility of dealing with it all transformed.

And it's just possible that dealing with it all transformed, is really all that Life requests of us.



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