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

Shout About It

Inglenook, Rutherford, California, USA

December 20, 2013

"Shout about it, open hearts, feel about it, open minds, think about it, everyone." ... Tears For Fears, Sowing The Seeds Of Love

"Those who tell don't know, and those who know don't tell." ... Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

"Another possibility, Roland, Curt, Lao Tzu lăoshī, is this: those who don't know tell, and those who know speak." ... Laurence Platt

"Who am I?".

It's the essential question of our lives. To ask it, to interact with it is quintessentially what it is to be a human being. It's a question which is inextricably intertwined with another question "What  am I?". Given the choice, I prefer interacting with "Who am I?" because in so doing, I have to confront and interact with "What am I?" as well, simultaneously - kind of like a two for one  freebie (it just doesn't seem to work as well the other way around).

"Who am I?" is a question of a different order, of another class than most ordinary questions. An ordinary question calls for an answer. When its answer is forthcoming, the ordinary question has outlived its usefulness. "Who am I?" on the other hand, is an extraordinary question. It calls for an answer ... and then it calls for another answer ... and then for another  answer - on and on and on. The question "Who am I?" is eminently useful because it ongoingly calls for more and more and more answers, maintaining its potency long after many, many answers come forth.

Ultimately even though by itself it's the cornerstone of humanity's great philosophical inquiries, I propose "Who am I?" is best looked at through a lens, a prism  if you will, which trains us to focus on and get something really useful from the "Who am I?" inquiry like a by-product, like something pragmatic, something with leverage and power - for example, "What do I have control over  in my life?" (there's so much beyond my control) "What do I have say in, in my life?" (there's so much I have no say in) or "What am I (and only I) in charge of  in my life?" (there's so much I'm not in charge of, even though I want to be) or "What am I (and only I) responsible for  in my life?".

Interacting with questions of this order not only goes a long way towards fleshing out many possible answers in the "Who am I?" inquiry (and in passing, in the "What am I?" inquiry as well), but it also generates powerful accessories, powerful tools, powerful implements, powerful leverages for our lives, over and way beyond merely new defendable points of view of, and / or righteous debates about who and what we really are or could be.

The truth is (which is to say, when I speak truthfully about it) I really don't have much control over anything  in my life. Yes I do seem to be good at reacting  to things. History has proved I'm great at responding  to things. In fact, if I've had any success at all, it's because I've learned by trial and error to respond well to whatever Life throws at me. But as for being in control  of what Life throws at me? I'm really not in control of anything much ... really  I'm not. No kidding! If it's Laurence against the universe, the universe always wins. Every time. Hands down.

But there's one thing I do  have control over. There's one thing I do have say in. There's one thing only I'm in charge of, one thing clearly only I am responsible for. What it is, is what comes out of my mouth. It's what I speak. It's my words and my language. Is it that ie could it be possible  that who I really am is my word?  Is it possible that who we really are is what we speak? Listen: I'm not saying that's "the truth". If I said it's "the truth" who we really are is what we speak, I'd be doing you a great disservice. What I'm inquiring into is, is it possible who I really am is what I speak? If so, it's an intriguing possibility, one worth trying on for size.

Once I've fully entertained this idea, once I'm totally willing to step into  the possibility that who I am is nothing more and nothing less than my word, once I'm willing to stand for this possibility, then whatever I speak is  who I am and who I am is whatever I speak.

Now, there's a fundamental differentiation here, one which is critical to embed if this distinction is going to have any real, lasting power. It's this:

My words can also describe ie they can also tell  who I am. When my words tell who I am, they're not who I am. But when I'm being that who I am is my word, then my words speak who I am and who I am is what I speak.

So: "Who am I?". Who I am is what I speak. And: "What am I?". What I am is that I speak in the first place.

Don't hold back. Those who know speak. Let it all out. Shout about it. Express it. Speak it. Share it.

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