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 To Do, Nowhere To Go, Nothing To Get

Jamestown, Tuolumne County, California, USA

November 19, 2006

This essay, Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go, Nothing To Get, is the companion piece to I am indebted to Dorothy inspired this conversation.

There's nothing to do. There's nowhere to go. There's nothing to get.

In the normal course of events, if I say this, people will hear me speaking apathy  and resignation.

It's not that. It's really an inspired state.

What's tantalizing and therefore interesting about it is you can't make it happen. You can't make "nothing to do" happen because that's making something  to do. You can't make "nowhere to go" happen because that's making somewhere  to go. You can't make "nothing to get" happen because that's making something  to get.

Now I'm just being here high up on the edge of this cliff overlooking the river meandering through the canyon thousands of feet below, and if I just cold, plain, flat-footed look and tell the truth about what I see, I notice it's already done, I notice I'm already here, I notice there's nothing to get and I already got it.

It requires constant reminding. The skew  of Life is something's gotta be done. "Nothing" is rich. But the machinery is skewed away from it. And there's a pitfall here. Saying there's nothing to do  isn't an injunct to do nothing. Rather, it's to look from the perspective nothing to do ie from completion, and from there see what's possible next.

The skew of Life is also there's somewhere to get. "Nowhere" (and therefore everywhere) is rich. But the machinery is also skewed away from it. It's been ground into us from an early age there's somewhere to get - ontologically, financially, and also even geographically. And as we pit our energies trying to get somewhere else from where we are now, life slowly, inexorably  passes us by. We're trapped in the skew like an undertow. In answer to its call, we go somewhere else ... from where we're skewed to go somewhere else.

I live in the Napa Valley, California's "wine country". Recently a visitor from Las Vegas Nevada said to me "Everyone comes to Napa Valley California on vacation. Where do you  go on vacation?". I told her "I already live here. I don't have to go anywhere.".

The skew of Life is also there's something to get. There's nothing to get. The search for meaning is the perfect conundrum. Life doesn't mean anything, and it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't mean anything.

The shock of this revelation comes not from any perceived attack on whatever we've invested in our personal and intensely private search for meaning. The shock of it comes from the realization of how much time we've wasted on the futility of the search.

© Warner Brothers Studios
The Road Runner and Wile E Coyote
But the machinery wants to get something. It's been ground into us from an early age this all means  something, and the way to live a full life is to find meaning. The problem with that is it's we who made up meaning in the first place. Then we forgot we did that, and pretty soon it starts to look like Life itself  has intrinsic meaning.

What a way to live! Werner Erhard calls that "not knowing a stick from a hole in the ground". That's the basis of the classic trap the Road Runner sets for Wile E Coyote when he paints a door on the side of a mountain, and Wile E Coyote, totally fooled by what the Road Runner has made up, tries to run through the door and of course runs smack into the rock wall instead. Wile E Coyote, as we all know, will run into the rock wall on the side of the mountain again and again and again. We, on the other hand, are friends of distinction. We can distinguish the meaning we make up  from "nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to get" as the foundation from which to live a transformed life.

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