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

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Pruning Both Sides Of The Hedge

Goleta, California, USA

December 14, 2009



This essay, Pruning Both Sides Of The Hedge, was written at the same time as I am indebted to John Hunter who contributed material for this conversation.



In conversations about health, it's said "you are what you eat.". In conversations about wealth, it's said "you are what you wear.".

In fact, you're neither. Both "you are what you eat" and "you are what you wear" are merely interpretation  of who you are - that is to say, "you are what you eat" and "you are what you wear" are simply representations ie symbols  of who you are.

The truth is probably closer to "you are what you speak.". And that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion - for many other conversations on many other occasions, actually, because arguably you're not what you speak either, although I could make a strong case for "you are the clearing in which speaking shows up".

But I digress ...

If there's an art  to eating well, for me it's the art of discovering uniquely what promotes health and vitality in my body. As I look closer at this, what I notice is both health and vitality, as fundamental  as they are for supporting my life working, are really only secondary to what I develop.

What I develop are Conversations For Transformation ie language in which who I really am - in other words, language in which who we really are  - manifests, becomes tangible and makes a difference. Health and vitality provide an essential backdrop  to this expression of who I really am. Yet they're not who I really am. They're essential supports of the expression of who I really am being gotten - supports, that is, when they don't get in the way  of ie when they don't interfere with the expression of who I really am being gotten. What I eat, when it promotes health and vitality in my body as a foundation  for supporting the expression of who I really am being gotten, is what defines eating well for me.

If there's an art to dressing well, for me it's the art of wearing clothes in styles, fabrics, colors, and textures which primarily are functional, and secondarily provide a backdrop to the expression of who I really am. I'm not what I wear. Who I really am is communication, transformation, and freedom. Some clothes in certain styles, fabrics, colors, and textures support this expression being gotten - support, that is, when they don't get in the way  of ie when they don't interfere with who I really am being gotten. Others, by drawing attention to themselves, just get in the way of who I really am being gotten ie they distract from  who I really am being gotten. Those functional wardrobe elements which don't distract from who I really am being gotten, define dressing well for me.

There's more to clearing the arena  for authentic full Self expression than managing diet, health and vitality, and my wardrobe. There's also giving up  inauthentic  behavior.

The powerful discovery of my inauthentic behavior comes secondarily from others pointing it out to me. The powerful discovery of my inauthentic behavior comes primarily from my own distinguishing  which of my own behaviors I myself deem inauthentic.

Essentially, I'm behaving inauthentically when I'm trading aliveness  for survival. The idea of trading aliveness for survival has also been touted as a definition of evil. However, to define inauthentic behavior as behavior which trades aliveness for survival is good enough for jazz. Notice this distinction inauthentic  isn't worth much unless you get it as a result of observing your own behavior. That's when it has some power. That's when I can avoid or discontinue circumstances  or situations  which don't further authenticity and / or don't support life working. For example, in the early stages of rehabilitation, it's counterproductive being around people who consume alcohol. That's not a statement of value judgement about people who consume alcohol. Rather, in the context of rehabilitation, it's just what works.

Managing diet, health and vitality, and my wardrobe, and in addition giving up  behavior which is inauthentic  is what I call pruning both sides of the hedge  - to coin a (new) phrase. Let's say on that  side of the hedge, I maintain an appropriate diet and take care of my body because it provides a foundation of health and vitality which doesn't get in the way of who I really am being gotten. And let's say on that  side of the hedge, I manage my presentation  by dressing in a way ie by choosing my wardrobe in a way which provides a backdrop which doesn't get in the way of who I really am being gotten. And let's say on that  side of the hedge, I manage my circumstances  and therefore my associations  by, as far as possible, putting myself only in circumstances which don't get in the way of who I really am being gotten. Currently the newspapers are having a field day with a certain once revered golfing figure who allowed himself to be surrounded by circumstances inconsistent with who he really is, or at least inconsistent with who people consider him to be. It's the latter, now playing out so glaringly in the eyes of the whole world, which can have a terrible and tragic impact on his life working or not.

If that  side of the hedge was the only side of the hedge I pruned, I'd regard it as fixating on looking good, obsessing with surviving my image, both of which are the very definition of behaving inauthentically  ie of trading aliveness for survival. There's this  side of the hedge, my inauthenticity, to be pruned also. Both sides of the hedge require pruning. If I'm being inauthentic, changing my eating habits and my wardrobe doesn't make much difference to my inauthenticity. If I'm being authentic, poor eating habits and an inappropriate wardrobe interfere with the expression of who I really am being gotten.

Clearly, pruning that  side of the hedge is an important aspect of what it takes to simply get along  in the world. Just notice it doesn't really take much to look good, pruning only that  side of the hedge. Just notice it doesn't really take much to survive one's image, pruning only that  side of the hedge. And once you start telling the truth about it, you'll notice almost all behavior, especially all behavior which prunes only that  side of the hedge, is inauthentic.

Rather than pruning only that  side of the hedge, it's pruning that  side of the hedge and this  side of the hedge which tips the scales from merely looking good, from merely surviving my image, and from behaving inauthentically, to behaving authentically and supporting the expression of who I really am being gotten. It's the willingness to prune both  sides of the hedge which separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys.



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