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

Locker Room Banter II:

A Closer Look

Coyote Creek, Morgan Hill, California, USA

June 19, 2017

This essay, Locker Room Banter II: A Closer Look, is the sequel to Locker Room Banter.

I am indebted to the members of Exertec Health and Fitness Center Fitness Center who inspired this conversation.

At some point in my life around about now (it may have actually been closer to when I first listened Werner speaking forty years or so ago, but nonetheless some time around about now)  I realized the power of conversation ie I realized the power of my spoken word. Now by that, I don't mean the power to persuade, the power to convince, or even the power to get an edge over people and to manipulate things to go my way. No, I'm referring to the power to be ... my ... Self  as (and in)  my conversations - which is to say, the power to bring forth and be who I really am, in any conversation When I got that, I also got (to my chagrin) how much of my life I've wasted ie how much of my life I've trivialized  by meaningless chit-chat and gossip ie by small-talk, given what's available ie given what's possible with language.

In spite of what I already knew, I would find myself (ie be lured into)  participating in such small-talk - for example, in my gym locker room. When I say "lured into", I'm saying small-talk occured to me as a very strong current, so strong it had the ability to draw me away from my own integrity (my own integrity being a matter of honoring my word  - nothing more, nothing less). I began looking for ways in which I could direct this current myself (if you will) rather than be swept along by it.

When I overhear people talking in my gym locker room, I notice it's often small-talk within a certain strata  of conversation called banter  (light hearted, good humored back and forth, pleasantly superficial) - hence "locker room banter":  chit-chat, Monday morning quarterbacking, jokes, gossip ie deeply entrenched, undistinguished, thrown  ways of communicating. By bantering, we try to set ourselves up to be interesting, entertaining, engaging, and friendly. Often, banter is what communication's considered to be - that is to say, it's what communication's considered to be interimly. Thus all too often banter inhibits what's ultimately  possible for communication.

Anyone who's had a breakthrough in being transformed, knows another way of communicating is possible, a way of communicating beyond locker room banter - not a better  way of communicating, but a way of communication based on being present to word  rather than on mere back and forth  ie on exchanging noise to pass time. Transformed communication is communication based on being present to word. But it comes at a price, a stake ie an ante  if you will (which may explain why banter remains entrenched). Once communication transforms, the genie's out of the bottle (so to speak). Once I know transformed communication ie once I'm introduced to it and I don't take responsibility for bringing it forth, I diminish who I am as a human being. This diminishing who I am as a human being, is an integrity issue for me. With integrity, I'm either reinstating  integrity (it doesn't persist itself if left alone) or  ... (if I don't) I'm diminishing myself (it's one or the other ie it's a black and white issue - there's no gray  area). If I diminish myself by not taking responsibility for bringing forth transformed communication, I diminish everyone and  Life itself.

I work out daily at a gym - at least that's my goal (my health coach says working out daily is actually not  a good idea: a day off now and then works better). So I've had ample time to try ways of countering / meeting locker room banter, with transformed communication. At first I couldn't figure out a way. Then I hit on something simple that works: being mindful of not falling into the trap of automatically responding to banter with more banter. What works instead is staying present to word ie being out-here  with the people in conversation. The guys in my gym locker room engaging me (ie who try  engaging me) in banter, want my friendship - that much is clear. But instead of just bantering back, I'll ask about their home lives, their families, their children, their jobs etc. People, surprised, always respond generously (even gratefully)  to questions about their home lives and families. They'll drop banter in a heartbeat, leading to transformed conversations that are surprisingly powerful and authentic for gym locker rooms. Such conversations are what's possible for communication, which banter (even well-intentioned) unknowingly and unwittingly impairs.

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