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

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Last Train To The Suburbs

Somewhere At 39,000 Feet Over The Atlantic Ocean

March 15, 2011



"You can't go home again." ... Thomas Wolfe

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." ... Thomas Stearns "TS" Eliot, Four Quartets #4: Little Gidding
This essay, Last Train To The Suburbs, is the companion piece to It was written at the same time as The Way We Are.

I am indebted to John Fowles who inspired this conversation.




I could get a cab or a bus. Instead I decide to take the train. Still energized by the events of the day, a day of grand accomplishments, a day of mounting successes, I set off walking towards the station. The first bolt of lightening flashes the darkening street into clear relief. Then, as thunder rolls, the deluge begins. I know I'm going to get soaked but I don't mind. I button my coat and turn up my collar, making no effort to avoid the inevitable. Soon rain is coursing through my hair and down my neck. But it's more of an acknowledgement  than an inconvenience really. So I let it be, celebrating it, celebrating with  it.

Splashing through unavoidable puddles (my socks are now also sodden), I realize I'm keenly anticipating going home. I'm looking forward to seeing my family and old friends again. There's been so much I've accumulated to share with them, so much brilliance and beauty which is now imbued in my day to day life. It's not that it must  be shared - it doesn't have to be. It'll also be fine if it stays simply as the status quo. I could share the cake  or I could eat it myself. Either way is fine with me. Really it is. But if  it's going to be shared at all, then sharing it with my family and old friends is a great start.

Around the next corner I see the train station. But wait ... it's in total darkness. All the lights are out. It's looking very closed for the night.

Matter of factly, I look at the timetable displayed in a glass frame by the waiting room. There are no more trains until the morning. I've missed the last train to the suburbs. "Oh well ..."  I say - to no one in particular. That's really the full extent of my reaction.

The storm is passing. A peal of fading thunder rolls away in the distance. Standing here alone on the deserted platform, I turn my face upwards. The driving rain has slowed to a light drizzle. I open my mouth, drinking in its tiny fresh droplets. "Mmm  ... water from Heaven" I muse. The clouds are starting to open. Through the gaps I can once again see the night sky. Myriads of bright stars decorate the firmament, seeming more in focus now that the air is scrubbed clean.

There's no one else around. There's no one sitting in the waiting room. There's no one working in the ticket office. There are no faces looking through any of the windows. There are no porters. There's no one anywhere  watching me. This whole place is completely empty.

Then, in one epiphanous  moment, I realize this whole place is always  empty. Not this whole place  like this railway station - that's too limiting a context for what I'm present to. I mean this whole place like all of Life itself. It's all completely empty - and this is a completely marvelous moment. I stand stock still, being with the occasion, not resisting getting wet, savoring its poignancy.

A light breeze cools my cheek.



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