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


Rite De Passage

Highlands House, Vredehoek, Cape Town, South Africa

February 21, 2015



"Rocks are hard, water is wet, and Mother is Mother."  ... 
This essay, Rite De Passage, is the tenth in a group of thirteen on Parents: It is also the third in a group of four written in Cape Town, February 2015:
  1. South Africa Leadership
  2. Wuudhu
  3. Rite De Passage
  4. The Girl Who Became A Tree
in that order.

The group of four written in Cape Town, February 2015 is the sequel to In The Space Of Possibility.

It is also the prequel to Completing Cape Town, February 2015.

I am indebted to my mother Andee Platt and to my sister Anthea "Anth" Sarah Platt Haupt who inspired this conversation.




When a man says goodbye to his mother, it's un rite de passage, a rite of passage, of which there are very few in life so profound as this one. When I say "goodbye", there's a double entendre:  it's finishing up ie wrapping up the entire process, and it's also bidding the final farewell. It's poignant: there won't be another opportunity.

I had a choice to make for the thirty three hour journey to the other side of the world required to get here to be with to her. The first was I could wait until I received word that the moment had become dire ie that the end was near, and then come and bid the final farewell - and of course run the risk of arriving too late. The second was I could arrive too early, yet have no doubt whatsoever we would get everything finished ie we would wrap everything up in plenty of time. I liked the latter more.

What is it to be complete with someone? Being complete with someone is having the space for allowing them to be OK the way they are, and OK the way they aren't. Being complete with someone is an act of generosity. As my mother and I spoke face to face for what will arguably be the last time, I could see how pointless it is to resist the way she is. It was more than that actually: it was so pointless and so obviously  pointless that it became humorous, and I found myself laughing at the irony of it. The way she is, and all the ways of being  (if you will) I've inherited from her and / or from being around her, are just as much a part of my constitution as my DNA. So how can anyone who is  my mother (ie me), resist being my mother or get away from or avoid my mother or not accept her as she is? How stoopid  is that?

A lot transpired between us in a short timeframe, some of it mundane, some of it profane, some of it sacred. With everything that transpired, there's one image of us which is now indelibly etched in my memory, which has emerged as the  image to share. It's an image I'll keep front and center stage  and always remember. It's one that epitomizes our relationship. I'd been wheeling her on a walk in a wheelchair through a cool courtyard with a nice fountain. I sat down on a bench, faced her, and we spoke about all the things a man and his mother speak about at a time like this, the babbling of the fountain in the background. Then we went back to her room.

With the wheelchair braked next to a larger armchair, I support her getting out of the wheelchair and onto the armchair. I reach out to support her, she reaches back to take my arm, I move my free arm under her shoulder, she moves her free arm to my waist to steady herself, I turn slightly to get her into position, then she turns slightly following my lead ... and that's when I realize my mother and I are dancing!  That's when I realize my mother and I have always  been in a dance together - sometimes sublimely in a dance together, sometimes stepping on each other's toes in a dance together, and sometimes tripping each other up in a dance together ... but we've always  been in this dance together - regardless of whether or not we recognized it at the time, regardless of whether or not we appreciated it at the time.

Her last words to me were "Parting is such sweet sorrow.". I can include William Shakespeare, literature, arts, and music in the long list of gifts my mother gave me.

Transformation, being what it is, dictates  we're not able to be who we really are fully to the degree we're incomplete with our parents. If you simply get that, it works, and you can drop all the resentment in a flash (the explanation of why  it works just takes too long, which will cost you precious time). Here's what Mr Nelson Mandela said about resentment: "Resentment is like taking poison, hoping the other  guy will die.". You can tell which people hold on to resentment and incompletion. They're the ones looking banged up, bent out of shape. Being complete with someone starts as an act of generosity, a gift you give them, ending as a gift you give yourself.



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