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

Silver Boxes

The Michael Mondavi Family Taste Gallery, Los Carneros Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

September 15, 2013

"The pathway to having isn't wanting. If you want something, you need to have a different relationship with it other than wanting it, in order to have it." ... 
"To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go." ... Lao Tzu
This essay, Silver Boxes, was conceived at the same time as

When we refer to "keeping things in silver boxes", it's a euphemism for keeping special  experiences alive, for keeping special occasions alive. For this conversation, I'll assert something which at first may land as controversial: when we refer to keeping things in silver boxes, it's also a euphemism for something we do (mostly unwittingly) which keeps us stuck in the past.

I say it may land as controversial because silver boxes aren't often thought of this way. When we consider what we would keep in not just any  old boxes but rather in silver  boxes, there's a connotation of something special, yes? - especially when it comes to what would be worth  keeping in silver boxes. You wouldn't keep things in silver boxes unless they were worth a lot to you ie unless they were special, right? And ordinarily we don't consider special things, special experiences, and special occasions as included in the set of those experiences with which we get stuck in the past. Ordinarily we consider experiences in the order of trauma  (both soft and hard), upset, being incomplete etc as the set of experiences with which we get stuck in the past.

It's true. We do get stuck in the past with such experiences. Yet we also get stuck in the past with silver boxes or at least with what we keep in them  with all their connotations of specialness, just as surely we get stuck in the past with any trauma, with any ongoing upset, with any incompletion. It's even possible we get stuck in the past more effectively  with silver boxes and with what we keep in them, than we ever could with trauma or with being upset or with being incomplete because silver boxes' associated specialness somehow grants them an exemption from our inquiry and our examination.

Gee! I hope you get that.

Listen: there's nothing wrong with the propensity we have to keep special experiences in silver boxes. It's one of our most endearing human qualities. What may land as controversial is by keeping special experiences in silver boxes, we're unwittingly keeping ourselves stuck in the past. In an inquiry, that's what makes this interesting. It's not a simple line. It's not that it's bad  experiences with which we get stuck in the past, but we don't with good  ones. It's that we have the potential to get stuck in the past with all  experiences, even special ones in silver boxes.

This assertion has very little impact if it's taken on face value just because I say it's so. It does, however, have some impact when you examine it for yourself, then observe this is just the way it is for us human beings.

What's to be done about it? The answer to that question is: nothing. What's to be done about the blood flowing through your veins? Nothing. What's to be done about the oxygen entering your lungs? Nothing. These are default states  for us human beings. And you could also say it's a default state for us human beings to get stuck in the past - and that's regardless of whether it's bad experiences or whether it's special experiences in silver boxes with which we get stuck.

What's powerful here is to consider that without generating a stand for what's possible for the future, we human beings don't have a default state  which generates the future. In particular, we human beings don't have a default state which generates a future worth living into. Look around you: the evidence for that assertion is simply Life looking the way it looks today.

This conversation isn't about so-called bad experiences with which we get stuck in the past. It's not even about special, so-called silver box experiences with which we also get stuck in the past - and we do, even if it's not as obvious we do, as with bad experiences. What this conversation is really about (which is to say, what it points  to) is living Life as a stand for what's possible. Without a stand for what's possible, human being  has the propensity to get stuck in the past with all  Life's experiences. In other words, all Life's experiences have the potential to devolve  that way, including (surprisingly, perhaps, but only because they're likely to be less examined than traumatic experiences) those special, treasured ones we keep in silver boxes.

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