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

Nothing Can Prepare You For This

Rutherford Grove, Rutherford, California, USA

October 5, 2013

This essay, Nothing Can Prepare You For This, is the fourth in an open group Conversations With A Friend Prequels: It is also, with Heroes, a prequel to Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes.

I am indebted to Bob Alman who inspired this conversation.


As it turns out, although it's the prequel (with Heroes) to Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes, most of Nothing Can Prepare You For This was written after  Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes was completed.

So there's a certain hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision) it embodies which only and always becomes available when rewriting ie when recontextualizing  (I love  that word) the past from the future.

Laurence Platt

What if all the stars in the heavens are lining up in such a way that a private meeting - just the two of you - becomes possible?

What if in this meeting you could ask anything you like?  Anything at all. Any thing. Indeed, what would  you ask if you could ask anything? The format of this opportunity for asking, by the way, isn't etched in stone - like you're the one who asks, and he's the one who answers. No, this'll be a two way conversation. It'll be an open exchange of ideas, a meeting of the minds, an unobstructed encounter between beings, a quiet time for friends. Whatever transpires will be an extraordinary opportunity. So how will you prepare?

In addition to asking (or being asked) anything, what would you offer if you could offer anything? What would you say if you could say anything? What would you share if you could share anything? Perhaps you already have, at the tip of your tongue (so to speak) something you've always wanted to ask, something you've always wanted to offer, something you've always wanted to say, something you've always wanted to share. This is the time to do it all.

No, really: what if you had a lot  of time together? And what if the one or two things you already have to ask, offer, say, and / or share were expressed and completed in, say, ten minutes? What would you do then? You'd only kick yourself later if, after you'd expressed and completed everything you came in with, the meeting ended early. To stave off this eventuality, would you then resort to steering your devolving conversation into chit-chat  and small talk, effectively wasting the priceless opportunity at hand, simply because you didn't come prepared? That said, you'd be crazy  not coming prepared, yes?

So you start preparing. Making notes is good. Carrying notepaper with you wherever you go is good. Whenever you get an idea to bring to the meeting, jotting it down is good. Soon you've jotted down many, many items on pages and pages. So far so good ... or so it seems: on second reading, you realize most (if not all) of what you've jotted down is simply to make you look good. You've selected these items to make a good impression, to make you sound intelligent. You haven't created any space, really, for an awesome conversation. Rather you've ensured (or attempted to ensure) your identity  will have field day. Essentially what you've written will ensure nothing less (and nothing more) than an ego trip. God! ... this is the best  you can come up with? Ouch!

It's hard to admit, but it's true: most of what you've written down these past few weeks ie most of what you've diligently  written down is just to pass the time, to make sure you've got something to talk about. You can't believe it! All your best intentions have gone into this ... and all you can come up are ways to protect yourself from being (or seeming like ie sounding  like) a complete idiot - and an uninteresting  complete idiot, to boot. Where's the spontaneity? Where's the creativity? Where's the possibility?  Where's the honoring  this priceless opportunity in the moment?  Where's the authenticity?

It's hopeless. You know you're going to be embarrassed. You know you're going to be nervous - it'll show, and you won't be able to hide it. You know you're going to be found out  to be the impostor you know you are. All your intelligence, all your cleverness  won't help you get through this - in fact it will only get in the way and make things worse. So what else can you ante up  with? What other cards can you deal? What else have you got? With a sinking feeling, you realize you have nothing. You're empty handed. You start to realize ie it slowly starts dawning on you with great trepidation that no matter what you do, no matter how many notes you take, regardless of your best intentions, regardless of wanting to make the most of this priceless opportunity, nothing can prepare you for this. Nothing ... and you're aghast  at the finality of it, at the hopelessness of it, at the sheer dictatoriality of it. You're stuck.

Photography by Elizabeth Handy
Werner Erhard
So you let go ... you let go and you surrender to its tyranny. It takes courage: you allow yourself to fall forward until you've gone past your center of balance on the high diving board, and you've committed yourself to the gravity of it - now there's really no turning back  and you're truly ready for anything. You can finally be responsible  for whatever's going to happen. It's an absolute, complete, and total relief.

And in the clearing given by your surrender, in the opening made available by letting go, something begins to emerge. It's who you really are. It's the space, it's the context  in which all your life occurs. It's unfettered, unguarded, unflinching. It's the possibility of totally being.

Now and only now are you really ready to begin your meeting.

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