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

Nobody Is Never A Jerk Sometimes

Jessup Cellars, Yountville, California, USA

April 11, 2016

Greatness isn't never being a jerk. Nobody is never a jerk sometimes. That's not where greatness shows up. Being great carries no guarantee you won't be a jerk. No, greatness shows up in owning it when you're being a jerk, then quickly taking responsibility for it and cleaning it up. That's greatness. There's no human being who doesn't display a degree of jerkishess at some point or another. Human beings are just jerks sometimes. It goes with the territory. You can put that in the bank. I've been a jerk. You've been a jerk. Human beings will be jerks. Great human beings clean up their jerkishess. Awesome  human beings clean up their jerkishness faster.

Being in an inquiry into what made me act like a jerk whenever I acted like a jerk, is arduous at best and withering  at worst. When I look back on the moments when I acted like a complete jerk, I'm watching a riveting movie whose camera has captured my every look in close up detail  and whose microphone has captured my every tone and my every word and my every subtle vocal nuance. Even though I hate it, I can't look away. I can't block my ears. This movie doesn't lie. That's me up there on the silver screen being a total jerk, sometimes even to people who love me, sometimes even to people whom I love. These are not exactly my shining moments. And I can't change one single frame of this movie. Each and every one of its scenes are true reflections of my real life. They happened. They're history. It's all on film.

What happened next was I had an epiphany regarding the utility of this kind of inquiry. I saw that inquiring into what makes me act like a jerk, really isn't a powerful inquiry. Why  am I a jerk from time to time? Who knows!  The bigger question is can I be responsible for it?  Having gotten that, I've reverted to confronting and owning that I'm a jerk from time to time, and cleaning up the impact my being a jerk has had on people. That's waaay  more powerful than futzing  wondering why.

My process for cleaning up the impact my being a jerk has had on people, is simple. I've gotten back in touch with every single living person with whom I've been a jerk, taken responsibility for my behavior, and apologized for it. I've also cleaned it up with every single person no longer living (yes it's possible to do that) as well as with those whom I can't trace. That, in and of itself, allowed me to powerfully complete the past, and move on with my life with integrity. And that was enough ... for a short while at least. Then I realized there's something even more fundamental which is called for. Being the occasional jerk is so intrinsic to being human that simply cleaning it up isn't  enough. What I realized I had to do was embrace  my own jerkishness. Cleaning it up, in and of itself as it turns out, doesn't cut to the chase. Embracing it and taking responsibility for it ie owning it then  cleaning it up, works. It's the authentic way to handle being a jerk, not if but whenever I'm being a jerk.

For me, becoming enlightened (which is a loaded term at best, yet in this context it's good enough for jazz) isn't trying to get to a place of being super  human ie to a place where I'm never a jerk any more. That would be like a dog trying not to be a dog. To me, becoming enlightened is becoming fully  human. And becoming fully human in an enlightened way, calls for embracing my intrinsic human jerkishness, taking responsibility for it, and then cleaning it up, not if but whenever it manifests.

I'll bet you good money you've all noticed that a jerk who doesn't take responsibility for being a jerk, and who's in denial of being a jerk, is a jerk. And yet a jerk who notices they're being a jerk, who takes responsibility for being a jerk, and who cleans it up fast, is an inspiration, yes? Notice it's the same behavior - yet with different ownership. That's it. And that's all. It's the choice we have between these two different ways of owning our intrinsic human jerkishness, which results in dramatically dissimilar impacts being a jerk has on our individual constituencies and on the beingsphere as a whole.

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