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

Life Is Almost Over

St Helena, California, USA

April 20, 2019

"Quick! Get on with it! Life is almost over!"  ... 
"The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius." ... Laurence Platt quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes, about Werner
This essay, Life Is Almost Over, is the one thousand four hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the sequel to Life Is Calling.

At some point in time (I won't say with certainty exactly when it happened as I didn't mark my calendar - and even if I had, I didn't fully grasp the extent of its gravity when it first occurred for me), I stopped living as if my life on the planet is going to go on forever. And truly it was the way I lived my life: as if it wasn't ever going to end. In spite of that, had you asked me, I would have told you I'm actually pretty certain it's not  going to go on forever - which told me that living as if it would, was incredibly inauthentic. I even had a standing joke about what I'd like chiseled into my tombstone: it was a smart-alecky "THIS  wasn't supposed to happen!? ...".

Jokes aside, there was actually a certain avoidance there, a certain reluctance to confront what it really is to be a human being, a certain not living congruent with the rules. And not living congruent with the rules, is an aspect of not living as my word, which is (as a precursor) an aspect of not living in integrity. Listen: not living in integrity carries one enormous cost: the diminution of who we are. I treasure a sense of humor. For me, it's one of the most reliable litmus tests for a higher life form. That said, messing with integrity in life unavoidably comes with a hefty price tag. That's not a moral stand or even a bon mot. It's just the way it works. Like it or not.

The shift I underwent, while not earth-shattering, was neither trivial nor devoid of power. It was starting to live congruent with I only have a finite number of days left on the planet. Let me be 1,000% clear about this: there's not one shred of morbidity or sadness associated with this realization. To the contrary, it brings with it a new distinction, a new setting of priorities, a new space of discrimination, a new commitment to filter out the unnecessary, a new promise to make every remaining moment count, a new way of recontextualizing  (I love  that word) that which calls me and uses me. This new distinction hadn't been present until then (which is to say, I hadn't fully let it in until then). But now it's in place. It's proved itself to be a powerful implement which in and of itself, can bring blurry details suddenly and vividly into sharp focus, the kind of focus which brings a light to endarkenment, a kind of focus which makes me want to stand bolt upright and pay attention 24 / 7 / 365.


It's the kind of distinction which is similar to yet not the same as another pivotal distinction in the world of transformation: the distinction that (ie realizing that) life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless  ... and when I grok  (as Robert Heinlein may have said) that's what's so, I'm free!  Then the question to ask is: "What do I want to commit the rest of my life to?".

Obviously both these distinctions flesh out completely different conversations. Yet I group the two of them, inasmuch as they both compel me to look from what's next.


Now, to be clear about this (because if I'm not, it'll be easy to miss its value), this new focus is only secondarily on confronting the fact that I have a finite number of days left. That's only the catalyst. Primarily it's about prioritizing things, about becoming discriminating, about filtering out and purging the unnecessary, about making every remaining moment count ie it's about living every moment to the max. To be sure, I didn't need the realization that there's only a finite number of days left, to compel me to take this on ie be accountable for it. But it helps. Life itself is a great coach. Its implicit, unerring counsel is "The physical universe is your guru.". It's the kind of accountability which works best when I commit to take it on deliberately, given its incontrovertible evidence, not when it's forced on me by the circumstances.

On a related note, I know where we go when we die. But that's the topic for another conversation on another occasion. Until then, life is almost over!  So play now.

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