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


Power Play

The Artist's Studio, Spring Drive, Tam Valley, California, USA

June 25, 2012



This essay, Power Play, is the companion piece to Serene Passion.



It's not worth much even as idle water cooler  chit chat or as locker room banter to say "Breakdowns  precede breakthroughs.". The thing is ... of course  they do. And: so what?!  It's useless (albeit well intentioned) as encouragement  to point out to someone in trouble that problems precede solutions. Of course they do. Again: so what?! Reminding someone in difficulty that the darkest hour is just before dawn, while giving a nice warm feeling, doesn't solve anything or do them any good, really.

Nice warm feelings aside, these statements wouldn't be worth the paper they're written on if you found them inside Chinese fortune cookies. But as perspectives  from which to reinstate a predictable, reliable edge when things aren't working, they're really valuable. If all that happens to a breakdown is it's corrected, it's actually a missed opportunity. If all that happens to a problem is it's solved, it's another missed opportunity. What's missed are opportunities to leverage  one unworkable situation to cause a new situation with a far greater degree of power and workability which until then wasn't possible.

In this way, breakdowns become leverage for breakthroughs to solve bigger problems. Problems become leverage for new possibilities for solving bigger problems. The broader context for this assertion is: small problems are solved by creating bigger problems  to solve.

The problem of world hunger can be solved by creating a bigger problem of figuring out how to get people to become self sufficient farmers, or by figuring out how to distribute food from areas of the world where there's so much of it that half is consumed and half is wasted (anyone who's ever eaten in an American restaurant knows exactly what I'm talking about) to areas of the world where food is in short supply. The problem of being in a new place and out of touch can be solved by creating a bigger problem of figuring out what's best for the community and how to serve it, then participating flat out. The problem of languishing in a life without purpose can be solved by creating a bigger problem of figuring out what's wanted and needed in the world, then discovering ways to provide it. Even the problem of having grown children who've left home (you know, the problem known as empty nest syndrome)  can be solved by creating a bigger problem of figuring out ways to acknowledge them and validate their sense of being, then delivering that acknowledgement and validation selflessly without any thought of getting anything back in return. Furthermore a whole other raft  of problems can be solved by creating a bigger problem of figuring out how to make a difference in the world and then making a difference.

The following assertion is intentionally provocative (I don't want it to be a Laurence Platt comforter - I want it to be a Werner Erhard samurai  sword): if you've hurt your finger and it's causing a problem, then cutting off your arm solves the problem. No kidding it does!  Small problems are solved by creating bigger problems to solve.

Although it may sound the same at first, if you re-listen it carefully you'll hear this isn't the same principle as the biblical "If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out" (as Jesus Christ, quoted by both Matthew and Mark the apostles, may have said). Here's why it isn't the same:

"If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out" solves a problem by eliminating it. Not bad ... but it doesn't forward what's being distinguished here. I don't merely want to have a conversation about eliminating problems. I want to start a conversation about using problems to leverage solving problems and in so doing expanding what's possible rather than simply resolving what isn't working.

"If you've hurt your finger and it's causing a problem, then cutting off your arm solves the problem" on the other hand (please pardon the intentional pun ...) solves the problem by creating a bigger problem to solve. Having the presence of mind to interfere  with the drift of small problems by creating bigger problems to solve, is the true power play.

Another expression of that is this: a way of handling being stuck with a small problem to solve, is by creating a bigger problem to solve, to be stuck with. Anticipating your next  question, does a solution  to a problem really have to involve something to be (quote unquote) stuck  with? In a word, yes. What meaning and significance do you bring to being stuck  with a problem to solve? Listen: you're always  stuck with problems to solve. On the day I die, on the day I draw my last breath on the planet, there'll still  be problems left unsolved on my to do  list. What living for me is, is a glorious adventure continually climbing a mountain of problems to be solved, the top of which I'll never reach.

There's no mature transformation, there's no mastery of living, there's no real peace, there's no appreciation of your unique accomplishment, contribution, or who you really are, there's no satisfaction with the process of Life itself until you get this.



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