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 More Time

MacRostie Estate House, Sonoma Coast Appellation, Russian River Valley, California, USA

June 14, 2024

This essay, One More Time, is the twenty third in a group of twenty three on Parents:

My parents were wonderful. They were good, decent people who raised me, my sister, and my brother to be good, decent people with respect for others, with appreciation for art and music, with care for the planet, the environment, and nature. My father worked hard as a family doctor, widely loved in the local community, equally respected by his peers as a brilliant diagnostician. My mother was also active in the local community, participating generously in charity fund-raising events and soup kitchens providing vital nourishment for the impoverished. They enrolled the three of us in excellent schools where we received a quality of education which would be hard to match today. They gave us a lot, starting us on a path to live life as responsible human beings who recognized the goodness (if you will) of being in integrity, the joy of being open to and including others, and the discernment to know it's not all about moi.

Of all the many gifts they bequeathed upon us, there was one which they gave us, me in particular, which was more than simply generous. For me, it was inestimable, life-altering. The inestimable gift my parents gave me, was allowing me to have conversations with them, conversations for being complete with each other - individually and collectively. It took a lot to be in those conversations. They required much to be up-front and on the line. And while I may have used different words and vocabulary than they did in our conversations for being complete with each other (being exposed as I was in some depth to Werner's work), we both held what we considered being complete to be, as a ground state for life working for everyone, even if we articulated it differently.

Now the thing for me about being complete, and more than that, the thing about being complete with my parents and them with me, is that it allowed me to be complete with the other people in my life. Even if I was incomplete with some people in my life, it allowed me to generate  being complete with them, given that I had already experienced what generating being complete with my parents entailed. And the gift that comes from that, keeps on giving. It's been said that until you're complete with your parents, none of your relationships will ever be truly complete; until you're complete with your mother, none of your relationships with women will ever be truly complete; until you're complete with your father, none of your relationships with men will ever be truly complete. And since it's likely true that most people don't have conversations for being complete, that's no mean feat. That was their gift. It wasn't trivial.

It was only later, much later, after both my parents had died and I was a parent myself, that I was able to see (much to my own chagrin) where I'd held my parents to impossibly high standards. When I became a parent myself, I realized how much of parenting I had to figure out as I went along. I had no real experience of being a parent until my own children came along. Then I had to figure it out. But that's not a grace I afforded my own parents. With my own parents, I assumed they already knew. And when they didn't do what I knew  they knew, I judged them, I chastised them, I blamed them. I was l'enfant terrible, the child who knew more than the adults in the room. And for that, if I had one more time to be with them, I would 'fess up to it, I'd apologize to them for it. In our context of being complete, it's all been accounted for, even that which was unspoken. Yet when I look back on it, it's the one thing I would have liked to have 'fessed up to and told them while they were alive. The other things we completed together. But that one would've been all on me.

One of the things about transformation is it gives us the power to reach back into the past and recontextualize  (I love  that word) it. In this way, it renders the line of death permeable, arbitrary. So I'm not thwarted by not having had one more time to 'fess up to my parents face to face while they were alive, how I judged, chastised, and blamed them. It would have been nice to have told them directly. But they're alive in me now. So that's my access to them.

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