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

No Platitudes

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

August 5, 2010

This essay, No Platitudes, was written at the same time as New Era - An Invitation.

I am indebted to Clare Erhard-Trick who inspired this conversation.

One of the great things about life's little disasters is they have a capacity to be your teachers - if you can muster the presence to allow them to be ie if you can stay open to them.

It's been years now since I worked through a harrowing divorce. Those who know, know any divorce, especially if you're the unwilling party, can be harrowing. During the time I was very, very sad - and that was when I was having a good  day. The sadness wasn't so much for what was lost nor for the cost. And a lot was lost and it cost a lot. Rather, the sadness came from a sense of being powerless to do anything about it other than simply ride it out.

At times it felt so bad I was afraid I would die. Then things got worse and I was afraid I wouldn't  die.

My well intentioned friends would say things like "Laurence, this too shall pass  ..." which sure enough (years later) turned out to be true. But at the time during the heat of the experience, it and things like it only landed as platitudes. Platitudes are the kind of pithy, significantly wise  sayings you find in chinese fortune cookies which mean nothing really in pragmatic terms even though they supposedly come from a good place. They don't, in and of themselves, leverage transformation. Somehow knowing "this too shall pass" wasn't enough and made no difference. Somehow it made no difference visualizing or looking forward  to a hot shower when my life was being sucked under and drowning in mud.

Gradually (after nothing else worked) I realized the best position to get into and be in with regard to shifting my life was confronting the truth: that things were horrible - no whitewashing allowed. That was the first step toward healing: going through it. I knew I wanted to get my hands back on the reins of my life and feel good about my life again. I started confronting the enormity of what I had to shift - big  time. I started confronting it head on. I started taking stock of it all and looking at inventing a new future worth living into. But not inventing a new future worth living into as a whitewash nor as a platitude nor as wanting to change anything. Rather, inventing a new future worth living into coming from telling the white knuckled truth unflinchingly  of what was going on at the time.

When my friends asked me how they could assist, what they could do for me, what they could give me, what I wanted and needed, I would say "Listening, please, and conversation - but no platitudes.".

I got something profound during this time. I got I can't whitewash what I go through and what it feels like when things are horrible. And believe me, I tried. Man!  Did I try ...  No amount of platitudes, no amount of sugar, no amount of sweetness changed anything although God knows  I was grateful for them. Rather, what worked for me, where the rubber met the road  was taking stock of exactly the way things are and exactly the way things aren't. Then from there, inventing a new possibility for myself and my life.

The possibility I invented for myself and my life is the possibility of being communication, transformation, and freedom. That's when things started shifting. That's when I got my life back. In spades.

Actually if I tell the truth about it, not inventing it sooner may have been what got me in trouble in the first place. But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

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