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

One Foot In Front Of The Other

The Meritage, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 20, 2017

"It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel, or what you think, and certainly it has no interest in what you want and don't want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act."
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."
 ... Confucius
This essay, One Foot In Front Of The Other, is the companion piece to Dancing With My Mouth.

I am indebted to Anita Lynn Erhard who inspired this conversation.

Photograph courtesy
One Foot In Front Of The Other
There's no point in comparing what Werner Erhard says, to what Confucius says. That's not why I've quoted them both. To compare (that is to say to automatically, knee-jerkingly  compare anyone to anyone and / or anything to anything) is an oft-undistinguished hijacking by the mind. It's rampant. It happens when we shy away from distinguishing things the way they are. "This  reminds me of that"  is always from the mind, never from the being.

In regard to what people say, what's more useful is to differentiate between those people whose languaging describes  the world ie people whose languaging talks about  the world, and those people whose languaging recontextualizes  (I love  that word) the world. That's effectively the way to differentiate language with a word-to-world  fit (to describe, to talk about) from language with a world-to-word  fit (to generate, to recontextualize).

It's a very useful distinction to make - not because it makes one type of person better  than another (which it doesn't) and not because it makes one type of saying better than another (which it isn't) but rather because it brings forth the mostly hidden power of language to shape the quality of life, and to set up actions which impact life rather than merely react to it.

Confucius is on to something when he says "It does not matter how slowly you go ...". But he may be imposing an unnecessary distraction / interpretation by adding "... as long as you don't stop". Listen: it's OK  to stop. You can stop. You don't have  to not stop. Try this on for size: the only thing you have  to do? is die.


It's also sometimes said the only thing you have to do is be.

That's true if you define "be" as "exist" - in that case, the only thing you have  to do is be.

But if you define "be" as "wholeheartedly, creatively, consciously, intentionally, vibrantly live full on"  rather than simply "exist", then you don't have to "be" either - in which case the only thing you have  to do is die.

Werner's speaking generates a context  in discerning your only access to impacting life is action. And that context is who you really are. Coming from that context, he takes a razor to what impacts life (action) and what doesn't: intention, commitment, feeling, thought, want (don't want) et al. Look: those are some mighty sacred cows  he kills in distinguishing action and its definitive impact on life. In my opinion, it's smart (very  smart) to do that. Why? Because not killing those sacred cows leaves too much BS  in the space (pun intended). This kind of killing is sure to elicit a serious cacophony of "Yeah, but  ..."s, "What if ..."s, and "How about ..."s. Yet if you let all that go, and just look  (you can always pick it all up again afterwards if really you want it all back again), you'll see it works.

When you get the full power of what Werner's saying here (by the way, notice how simple  full power is), you get that the kind of being in action he's referring to, is being in action freely at choice, rather than being in action as required or (worse) as coerced  ie it's the kind of being in action that's "choose  to", not "have  to".

Clearly it's great coaching. However, even when you've fully gotten it, there's another  layer to it, a deeper cut, which is this: given that being in action is our only access to impacting life, our choice isn't merely to act or not  act: our choice is to not act ... or  ... to impact life. And that's a much bigger game. It's game which calls for bravery, audacity, and courage when the alternative is acting just in order to survive. It's a game worth playing. No, it's more than that: it's the only game in town.

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© Laurence Platt - 2017 Permission