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


Like Icing On A Cake

Hagafen Cellars, Napa Valley, California, USA

July 15, 2008



This essay, Like Icing On A Cake, is the second a pair on Healing: I am indebted to Janet Tierney who inspired this conversation.



A red warning light flashing on my car's dashboard thermometer told me the radiator had overheated on a freeway which had turned into a parking lot due to traffic congestion. I pulled over to the median on the side of the road to investigate.

I opened the hood to check the water level in the radiator. Everything looked OK. Everything was quiet. No hissing steam. No bubbling sound of boiling water. The thermometer warning must be an error, a false alarm, I thought. I had some water in a container in the trunk. Being on the side of the road with the hood open, and being that the traffic was going nowhere anyway, I opened the radiator's cap to top it up with water.

The thermometer warning wasn't  a false alarm. The overheated radiator, having long since boiled its entire contents of water and coolant, now contained only steam under such intense pressure it sealed the cap even tighter than usual, creating an illusion nothing was out of the ordinary. As I opened the cap, the steam exploded  all over my right forearm, instantly causing first and second degree burns, barely missing my face and my right eye - but only just. An invisible angel grabbed me by the hair and yanked my head a micrometer out of the way with a mere nanosecond to spare.

The melted destroyed skin was later peeled off by a doctor who told me my arm would heal but would be disfigured for life with ugly scars. I said "Like hell  it'll be!" (quietly, to myself - not to him). He dressed my wounds, gave me an ice cream tub sized container of burn cream, and sent me home.

I took a week off work and lay down on my couch with a thick layer of burn cream all over my arm like icing on a cake which I'd plastered there using a spatula from my kitchen. I propped my arm up on pillows so it was upright in front of my face. I declared my intention to heal myself, to be healed and whole.

No painkillers numbed the pain - I took none. The sensation was intense, stinging, burning. The struggling skin contracted, tightening on my forearm making it throb like I wore a wrist bracelet too tight. Lying there relaxed with a crossword puzzle and the occasional televised soap opera for entertainment and distraction, I recreated the discomfort instantly it came up. Whenever stinging, burning, and tightening sensations arose, I stayed one step ahead  of them, creating  them intentionally, re-creating  them after the fact if I couldn't create them immediately enough. If I succeeded in creating or recreating them exactly as they occurred, if I succeeded in creating the exact same sensation  in the exact same location, there was no pain. Instead there as a sensation of warmth, a good  wholesome healing sensation of ... well ... pleasure. Whenever I failed to create the sensations or whenever I recreated them too late after the fact, the pain was intense, excruciating.

When the open burn sores healed finally, my arm was unblemished, spotless, perfect - not one  scar.

I went back to the doctor for a checkup and rolled up my sleeve. He looked at my arm, then looked at me, then looked at my arm again, then looked at me again, you know, the classic double take.

But he didn't say anything - not one word.



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