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

Second First Impression

Chicago, Illinois, USA

August 5, 2005

This essay, Second First Impression, is the first in the first trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  2. What Goes On Internally
  3. Riding The Horse Revisited
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair.

I had the opportunity to visit with my best friend. When I saw the lighthouse smile I didn't have to ask how he is. I knew. He didn't have to ask how I am either. He knew.

One of the qualities that makes him remarkable is he comes from his center. To a degree, that works colloquially as a descriptor. Yet saying "center", given who he is, is arbitrary. Where exactly, when we are talking about a human being, is "center"? So I let saying it that way go. Whatever / wherever that place is he comes from, it's more accurate to say there's no messing with it.

When I get how or rather who  he is being, I see how I sustain that then break from it from time to time. Who am I being when I break from being who I am? I asked myself. I got no answer. It was disconcerting.

He doesn't use language to refer to what he is talking about. He uses language to state what he is talking about. In other words, what he says is what he's talking about. There's no fluff. There's no gossip. There's no story telling. I notice how totally comfortable, at home, at ease, open, and at peace I am around him even in the disconcerting moments and even in the complete absence of the comforts of talking story.

As an oral communicator he is brilliant. Yet by his own admission oral communications are almost never well crafted. He truly appreciates the power of well crafted statements. Well crafted statements are the domain of writers, a distinction which includes literary writers as well as speech writers. A written statement can be crafted and recrafted until it is terse, accurate, and powerful. The beauty of internet writing is that statements can be retracted, recrafted, and then republished imparting even more power. This medium, unlike the permanence of writing committed to books, is very forgiving in that way.

At some point I started to get from his conversation our propensity to turn every answer, every "A-Ha!", into a rule, a formula for success. The most pernicious thing about that is we will give up our freedom to generate newly in favor of chiseling into the rock what once worked. I notice how willing he is to not be stuck in the considerable successes of his past not because that's good Zen but rather because he knows the successes of a past era can contain the seeds of destruction for the future era. He's noticed that at the end of an era the rules for living successfully change. Clearly that creates freedom to move on unattached to failures in the past. But then it dawned on me it also creates freedom to move on also unattached to successes  in the past.

That's interesting ... I thought. I saw that, and yet I could not quite grasp what I had seen, or at least I did not want to let it in completely. That's my fundamental resistance to change. It was valuable to see my resistance to change so clearly out of what he said. But getting value just by being around him and out of what he says isn't new to me. Neither is it new to me seeing the rules for living successfully change from time to time so that what may have succeeded yesterday fails today. What's new to me is noticing I'm attached attached to and at the effect of failure rather than regarding failure as confirmation of the end of an era and that new rules and hence new opportunities are now in place and available.

He says he doesn't like roles. He says he likes accountabilities. He disdains people going through the motions. He doesn't pay much attention to politically correct conversation. He's like the dealer at the poker game. If you've got nothing at stake you don't get to play at his table.

Even his haircut reflects his intentionality. It's totally authentic. It's not modeled or styled after anything else other than what it is for itself.

How does he continue to be who he is being minute after minute hour after hour day after day week after week month after month year after year decade after decade? Is it simply because he has no considerations that he can't be that way?

* * *

Ending a conversation he said:

"OK. We've got three minutes. Anybody got any 'yeah but's, 'how 'bout's, 'what if's?".

Nobody had. There was nothing. It was complete.

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