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




People I Know

Sterling Vineyards, Calistoga, California, USA

February 22, 2018

"I used to be different; now I am the same."  ... 
This essay, People I Know, is the companion piece to River Of People.

It is also the seventeenth in a group of twenty one on People: I am indebted to the 140,000,000,000 (one hundred and forty billion) of us human beings, past and present, who inspired this conversation.



Photography and collage by Screen Media Films
People I Know


I know you. Man! I really  know you. I know who you really are.

Now in case you're wondering to yourself "You're joking, of course. Is that even possible, Laurence? There are one hundred and forty billion  of us, past and present. How can you know us all?", I'm not talking about watching webcams  to see what you do in private day by day, or ESP-ing what you intimately think and believe and feel, or how you earn your living, or where you reside and what your postal code is, or what you want and whom you married and what you aspire to, or the gamut of specific facts and data associated with the pasts, presents, and futures of your lives, or your cultures, or the partisan politics of your home region. I'm not even talking about your names. I'm talking about none of that when I say "I know you. Man! I really know you" because none of that  is 1) who you really are, nor 2) how we're constructed to operate, nor 3) how we're thrown to be. In the former conversation, our differences are legion, infinite. In this latter conversation, we're each the same.

Every one of the people I know ie every one of the one hundred and forty billion of us, are charged with surviving. At the same time, everyone I know ie every one of the one hundred and forty billion of us, longs to just be. Indeed, the goal  of learning to survive ie the whole point of it, it could be said, is to protect our wherewithal to just be. And how each of us learns to survive, manifests uniquely, given our stories, given our economic situations, and given our personal sets of circumstances. Yet the fact that each one of us learns to survive in a unique way, is common to every single one of the people I know. That's how we're all constructed to operate.

Children (as you'll recall by looking at your own past) are born just being. And at some point, that occupation gets unceremoniously shelved. We assumed at the time it would be a temporary  shelving, and that we'd get back to just being  again very soon. But oh no ... as being  was left further and further behind us in our distant past like a fading memory, and as we instead discovered ourselves increasingly preoccupied with surviving, we begrudgingly assumed being  was no longer realistic. So we gave up ie we abandoned  our dreams of just being. Indeed, we shaped the rest of our lives from then on, in ways that compensated for our loss of just being  - a loss to which we became more and more resigned and inured, yet never fully accepted. Every single one of the people I know, did that. It's how we're thrown to be.

That's two out of three. That's how we're constructed to operate, and how we're thrown to be. All the people I know. Every last one of us. Past and present. You see, we're really not that different from one another at all. And watch: it's a paradox that even those who aspire to be different ie the self-styled mavericks  among us (you know, those whom it's said dance to the beat of different drums?)  are all alike in their desire to be different (which is actually a lot closer to the truth than it sounds).

As for #1 ie as for who we really are, those who get it  know we're the space (ie the contextual  space really) in which the events of our lives occur, and in which Life itself  occurs. Wait! There's more: in the contextual space we are, what also occurs for us is the "I" / the "me" we no longer identify ourselves to be. In contrast, those who don't know who we really are, take themselves to be the "I" / the "me" that occurs for them. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a unique conundrum for each and every one of us human beings that we find ourselves at various times, somewhere along the continuum between taking ourselves to be that "I" / that "me" which occurs for us, and knowing ourselves to be / expressing ourselves as the contextual space in which the events of our lives, Life itself, and  that "I" / that "me", occur.

That's it. And that's all. That's my one-size-fits-all  description which I'll bet good money fits each and every single one of the one hundred and forty billion people (that's all of us) I know and love and respect, to a T.



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