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 On The Line

The White House, Napa, California, USA

September 13, 2009



You're either totally committed  or you're not. And you can't be totally committed  as long as you've got one foot on the line, as long as you're playing it safe, as long as you're holding back.

You can't get out of the way  so life can work, you can't be  in a way that let's life work, as long as you've got one foot on the line, as long as you're playing it safe, as long as you're holding back and asking the question "Why?", as in "Why  isn't life working?", as long as you've got one foot on the line trying to find the reason, as in "The reason  life isn't working is ... (etc etc)".

Photography by Indöpia
One Foot On The Line

If life isn't working, and I intend to get out of the way  so it can work, that is to say I intend to be  in a way that let's life work, then I'm not enrolled in asking the question "Why?", as in "Why  isn't life working?". If life isn't working, and I intend to get out of the way  so it can work, that is to say I intend to be  in a way that let's life work, then neither am I enrolled in finding the reason, as in "The reason  life isn't working is ... (etc etc)". If you're looking for enlightenment (which is a classic oxymoron, if ever there was one, by the way, yet to say it that way is good enough for jazz), if you're looking to get clear  (which arguably is what we considered transformation  to be before we realized the notions of "enlightenment" and "getting clear" both conceptualize transformation to death), the oft touted bon mots  "Things happen for a reason"  only get in the way. They throw up a veritable wall of concepts  which only get in the way.

The "Why?"  question doesn't interest me, although it can make for a really great evening's entertainment. If its purpose is to get to the bottom of and to understand  what's not working, its power is extremely limited when applied to my intention to be  in a way that let's life work. Understanding what's not working, and being  in a way that let's life work, are worlds apart.

It's hard to wean away from "Why?"  given the investment we've placed in it. Asking "Why?"  goes on and on and on, its answers purely arbitrary, purely arbitrarily  agreeable and acceptable. Neither asking "Why?"  in an attempt to come up with an understanding of why life isn't working, nor coming up with a reason  life isn't working make anything work better. Understanding, it's been said before - and often - is the booby prize. If their intention is to get out of the way  so life can work, that is to say to be  in a way that let's life work, people will stop asking "Why?"  when they realize it's a contextual shift  which is called for, rather than understanding.

The trouble for me with the oft touted bon mots  "Things happen for a reason"  is for them to provide any value at all, they should be (yet never are) followed by the question "Who's the one who creates the touted reason?", or (better) "Who's the one who authors  the touted reason?", or (even better yet), "Who's the one who believes ie who accepts  the touted reason?". And it's not simply that we've conveniently forgotten it's us  who conjure up the plethora of reasons in the first place, and then simply defer to the one(s) we like best. It's more than that actually. It's that implicit in the bon mots  "Things happen for a reason"  is complete and total abdication of responsibility for workability in life, for having life work.

When I've got one foot on the line, when I've got one foot on the line of "Why?"  and reason, I can't get out of the way fast enough or far enough to let life work by itself. And when I move on and be  in a way that let's life work by itself, the first thing I realize is I'm full of the sheer joy  of being alive. The second thing I realize is keeping one foot on the line of "Why?"  and reason, as long as I'm playing it safe, as long as I'm holding back seems to be shrewd  at the time, and yet in retrospect it plainly comes at a high price, at a great cost to aliveness.



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