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


The Same Game Played In A Whole New Way

Vintage House Senior Center, Sonoma, California, USA

Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014

"What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for four hundred thousand." ... Hugh Nanton "Wavy Gravy" Romney

"What I have in mind is cooking Thanksgiving dinner for four hundred people." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, Service: The Same Game Played In A Whole New Way, is the seventh in a group of nine written on Thanksgiving Day:
  1. The Friends Of The Landmark Forum In South Africa
  2. Simple Things
  3. Full On You
  4. Regular Guy
  5. No Line
  6. Orchid Leaves
  7. Service: The Same Game Played In A Whole New Way
  8. Coming From Love
  9. Velcro Faces
in that order.

It is also the prequel to Hiking In A Painting.

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

The transition was gradual, really gradual. For a while, even I didn't realize it was happening. It wasn't as if I woke up one morning, having taken it on overnight like a new approach to life. To be sure, there've been occasions when I did wake up one morning, having taken something on like a new approach to life - regular exercising being one of them, a certain rigor about eating only good, wholesome, healthy food being another, being smart  managing my investments rather than simply fretting about how to make more money being another. But this wasn't one of them. This was less physical, less concrete. This transition was more of a transition in a way of being than in a way of doing. It was a transition from regarding it as being an opportunity to receive, to regarding it as being an opportunity to give, to be of service.

There was, to be sure, a precursor to this principle, a context which appeared which inexorably began using me. And the way it began to use me, subtly and somehow imperceptibly at first, eventually took up residence until it had fully occupied my attention, front and center stage, to the degree where it became impossible to ignore.

It's one of Werner's basic tenets for transformation (by tenets  I don't mean beliefs about it: I mean more like observations of how it works)  that if you are intending to keep transformation, you have to give it away. What a perfect paradox is that!  For the most part, giving transformation away begins by sharing it ie by speaking it.


No, that's not an error: I did intend to say "speaking it" not "speaking about  it".


Where it progresses from here, is wide open, free, and carries no obligation nor onus whatsoever - if it did, if it wasn't wide open and free, if it carried an obligation or an onus, it would not be transformation - transformation isn't so ... well ... heavy. For me, the gradual transition from only regarding it as an opportunity to receive, to regarding it as an opportunity to give ie to serve, is grounded in this tenet, yet it's neither determined by it nor dictated by it nor controlled by it. Giving ie serving is a free choice, a free choice which is neither determined by a tenet nor for that matter by anything of the past. If it isn't a free choice then it's not giving or serving, yes?

And that's how it came to pass when my daughter Alexandra and I were planning for our Thanksgiving vacation together (my two sons Christian and Joshua were out of town) and she inquired "Well, what would you like to do, Daddy?", I answered her "What I have in mind is cooking Thanksgiving dinner for four hundred people.".

So that's what we did: volunteered at a community center and did exactly that: cooked Thanksgiving dinner for four hundred people, the meals for half of which were delivered to the elderly and infirm in their homes, the other half of which were served at a sit down dinner for those able to bring themselves to the center to enjoy it.

There's a lot to be thankful for. And there's no doubt about the joy of sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. I can't recall one single time when I've done that myself when I haven't been thankful for the opportunity, thankful for the relationships I have with the people in my life, indeed thankful for Life itself - not to mention being thankful for being fortunate enough to have the slightly uncomfortable sensation of having eaten too much while there's still rampant hunger elsewhere on our planet.

But that's just one kind of Thanksgiving celebration. The other kind of Thanksgiving celebration, the kind when I'm not receiving but rather giving ie when I'm serving, isn't better. Instead it's just a new way of playing the same game. That's what it is - and that's all it is. Coming from service ie coming from giving rather than coming from receiving, is simply a new way of playing the same game. This is the same Thanksgiving dinner yet transformed. It's the same game played in a whole new way.

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