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

On Being Your Own Best Friend

Alston Park, Napa Valley, California, USA

July 29, 2019

"Usually we think of possibility as options. While this is in some sense true, possibility also exists on a deeper level of abstraction, a level which actually defines which options are permissible."
"If you're a listening for it, if you're a clearing for it, if you really get  it, that quote is arguably the essential Werner Erhard quote."
... Laurence Platt
This essay, On Being Your Own Best Friend is the companion piece to Bake Your Own Cake (And Eat It).

It is also the sequel to On Feeling Good About Feeling Bad: Manifesto III.

During the more than forty years I've shared Werner's work worldwide, people have been extraordinarily generous with me. Generous? How? In what way? Generous in affording me the gift of intimacy - intimacy in the sense of being willing to let me in, in the sense of allowing me to listen and to get and to experience what's so for them, what's true, and what's real, without filtering, without holding back, without spinning, without doctoring their experience and trying to be cool or look good.

I experience that as a very personal gift. Let's face it: it is  a gift, and it's rare. Granted it's not rare in the extraordinary context of Werner's work. But in our ordinary day to day interactions with ordinary everyday people, it is rare (think subway faces, elevator faces ... you get the picture). It's more than that actually: it's outright naïve to expect all people to always be willing and open and generous in this way - and yet we all know some will be (and the rest will be, once they're graduates).

One of the things I often notice about these intimate conversations is they'll start off with the person who's sharing, making a false assumption that their particular experience is unique to them. Then they're somewhat surprised, taken aback, and / or even relieved  to discover what they considered to be uniquely their experience, is actually de rigueur  for many, many other people too, at least for many, many other people who also tell the truth unflinchingly about their experience. An example:

Although we may be loathe to admit it outside of a trusted context of intimacy, for many of us the worst  time of our day is when we wake up in the morning. Honest! Once we're awake (which is to say once we realize  we're awake), the first things we may notice are feelings of loneliness, depression, and despair. Automatically. The opening chimes of the day! For no apparent reason. We languish  under them. We think it means something's wrong. And we're thrown to try to fix what's wrong. And one of the ways we try to fix this morning malaise  (if you will) is by deferring to diving into our day and / or to seeking out friends. And we hope and wish that doing so will relegate our feelings of loneliness, depression, and despair so far into the background as to disappear them from the radar of our front and center  experience.

To be clear, both getting into action and seeking out friends, are tried-and-true ways of dealing with the morning malaise. They work. Yet upon closer inspection, it may be they both only address the symptoms  and not the systemic cause. Look: you're in a pretty high place when you can hold your feelings as just your automatic feelings  and not as who you are. In a very real sense, our feelings aren't personal. "You don't ask 'Why Me?'  when it's raining" said Werner (Gee! I hope you get that - when he said it to me, it altered what's possible for my life). What is it then, to address the systemic cause in this instance? Even before seeking out friends, consider taking on being your own best friend. In all likelihood, that's what was missing in the first place. No, this isn't merely positive thinking. OK, so what's the difference?

There's a world of difference between seeking out friends in whose presence and company the morning malaise disappears, and taking on being your own best friend even when surrounded by friends  (in which case, the morning malaise is excepted). Watch: the former comes from and is predicated on taking on fixing;  the latter comes from and is grounded in taking on being already whole and complete, on growing up, on taking responsibility for my life, on taking care of myself. Really.

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© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission