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

Prior Feelings

San Francisco, California, USA

July 17, 2010

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.

I've been in love before.

When I say "before" I don't mean the time before this one ie I don't mean the last  time I was in love. I don't even mean the time before that. Or the time before that. I don't even mean the very first  time I was in love (her name was Désirée;  we were both four years old; watching her making farm animals with modeling clay across my kindergarten  classroom table, she was the most beautiful thing  I'd ever seen).

"Before"'s loaded implication is "an earlier time". When I say "I've been in love before", I want to distinguish "an earlier time" from something else much more profound. So I'll use the word "prior" instead. When I use the word "prior" as in prior feelings, I don't mean the great feelings of love I had at "an earlier time". In this conversation prior feelings  of love refer to the capacity  for love I have with which I was born. They refer to the possibility  of love which is here right now, and which has been here since the start of Life. I'm speaking about the naturally unfiltered, uninhibited possibility of being in love which is prior to being in the world - like a canvas, like a screen, like a platform.

In other words, "prior" implies underneath  or behind  it all. When I refer to prior feelings  I mean the great feelings of love I've got going on right now  underneath it all, behind it all. And even though the great feelings of love aren't linearly underneath or behind anything really (rather, they're non-linear experiential), to refer to the great feelings of love as prior ie as underneath or behind it all like a context  is good enough for jazz.

At some point (I'm not exactly sure when) this naturally unfiltered, uninhibited possibility of being in love was thwarted, disrupted. Little by little, slowly at first, stretching over many false conclusions and many years, I learned to hide my prior feelings. It's not that I thought my prior feelings should  be hidden. Neither was it a prissy matter of proper  etiquette - you know, the British stiff upper lip  sort of thing. It's that I learned  feelings get hurt, thwarted, frustrated if I let them hang out. I was a smart child. It was an "A-Ha!"  moment. It was also a mistake. But I didn't get it at the time. I was too young to know.

Now that I'm an adult, it's clear to me I made all that up. But as a child growing up, I thought this is what one is supposed  to learn about the great feelings of being in love. I thought I was very very  smart learning the danger of wearing my heart on my sleeve. I had no way of knowing at the time all I was doing was adding layers and layers and layers of barriers on top of, covering up natural love, the price of which I would pay with interest  later, once I discovered I'd obscured  an access to something critical to living a full life.

Obscuring the great feelings of love had become the norm, and with this new found norm came distrust. Here's when the trouble really compounds: when there's more time and effort spent protecting  the great feelings of love than there is in expressing  the great feelings of love. And the funny thing is at the time I was busily building these barriers, living my life behind the dark lenses of hip aviator  shades, I thought I was being cool.

It's taken me a while to figure this out: there's really no doing  required for being in love. There may, however, be un-doing required of what's gotten in the way of being in love. What's gotten in the way is all that stuff, all that cynicism  I learned about love, all those filters and dark lenses I've learned I need in order to protect my great feelings from being hurt, my communications from being unfulfilled, my love from being unrequited.

The filters actually exacerbate the problem because they're based on love being judged as valid only if it's incoming  and only if it's proved  - witness the oft heard complaint "If she really  loves me, she'll prove it  by doing ... (whatever).". The love I'm interested in, the love at the heart of it all is clearly outgoing  love. When it comes to outgoing love I, just by being here, am the proof. And again, love isn't linear. Yet to refer to love as "incoming" or "outgoing" is good enough for jazz.

Consider this: only someone who's overshadowed their prior feelings so successfully they've lost touch with love as a stand, with love as a way of being, with love as outgoing, in essence with love as a gift  would be overly concerned with requiring incoming love be proved.

I'm inspired and excited by this idea. My prior feelings from waaay  underneath are intact. Buried, maybe, under a mountain of judgements, incorrect conclusions, mistaken assessments about what love is and what love isn't. But they're still here. And they love to come out and play, just the same now as they did when Désirée made farm animals with modeling clay in kindergarten all those years ago. They're here. Beautifully intact.

When a situation seems to not have the right amount of love, or at least not have it in the shape  and form  I think it should be in, I've found out (strange as it may seem) it's really got very little to do with what's going on now. It's really got to do with what happened sometime in the past when love was interfered with, when love was interrupted, when love was thwarted, when love was let down, when love was unrequited, even when love was betrayed. And it's the automatic reminder to be careful  not to get those prior feelings hurt again (the purpose of which is clearly to protect those prior feelings) which makes certain the uninhibited, unfiltered naturally occurring joyous possibility of being in love can't come forth.

It's a vicious circle, a self fulfilling cycle, a self justifying view of the ill perceived scarcity  of love. Yet perhaps love really is  scarce when it's only regarded as something which is received  from another. Early on in this inquiry (which I've engaged in for some years now) I hadn't yet figured out the possibility of giving  love as enough. That came later.

When I get underneath, when I get behind the erroneous view that love is only real  if it's received  from another and proved, when I get behind this quaintly false hopeless  view of love, when I get back to my prior feelings, the plain truth is there's love in abundance. There's only love to give.

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