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

Some Inherited Life:

A Discovery

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

September 15, 2014

"Until what is significant is created by you, you aren't living your life: you are living some inherited life."  ... 
This essay, Some Inherited Life: A Discovery, is the prequel to Enrollment Is A Miracle.

Recently I was enjoying the company of an old friend, a thirty year veteran graduate of Werner's work, who's a veritable embodiment of transformation and possibility, and a rare pleasure to hang out with. One of his many attractive qualities is his ability to give people all the space in the world. No matter how they are, no matter who they're being, he has the space for it all, without judgement. I've watched him in situations when people are outright nasty with him. Yet his conversation never wavers from its baseline generosity. He never takes it personally. That's not some kind of special gift  he's endowed with: it's who he creates himself to be. He really has the space for people to be the way they are and the way they aren't. He truly loves people. And his is not a meek love. It's a powerful love.

That's not what got my attention. I already knew that about him. What got my attention was him saying "I really love Werner. He speaks the truth. I believe him.".

He's the kind of friend I can joke with and be dead serious with at the same time. So I said to him "Whoa! Hold on there, Big Guy: if you really love Werner, then whatever you do, please please don't believe  him. Rather discover it for yourself.".

He was silent for a moment. Then he smiled, his usual generous not taking it personally  smile, and said "Thanks for reminding me.". I replied "You're welcome.".

Arguably the real value in what Werner says, isn't  that it's the truth (and it may be the truth). Rather it's that should you choose to, you can engage with it and discover it for yourself. When you believe it, it's a lie - even if it's a valuable lie. It's discovering it for yourself which renders it profound and powerful. That's when it's real  for you. That's when it comes alive  for you (I prefer saying it that way, rather than saying "That's when it becomes the truth for you", given that settling for the finality of "the truth"  puts a damper, a kibosh  on the wonder of any further, newer discovery).

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


from the verb discover
to find something for the first time, or something that had not been known before, to realize or learn

Wanting to give a useful concrete example, I shared with him the way Werner saying "Until what is significant is created by you, you aren't living your life, you are living some inherited life" first landed for me. The way it first landed for me was predicated on the fact that I wasn't listening it to discover it for myself. Rather, I was listening it as something he said which sounded great. And the difficulty inherent in listening it that way is it avoids discovering for myself how much of who I consider myself to be, isn't  who I really am, and instead is just a life I've grown into, a life I'm used to, a life I'm comfortable with, a life I'm familiar with - in other words (as Werner calls it) "... some inherited life.".

The thing I had to get past, in order to discover it for myself, was Werner calling it "... some  inherited life". I realized that's not intended to disparage whatever I inherited. Rather it's to differentiate  between living who I really am, and living the life I inherited. There's enormous leverage in making this distinction. And I gain access to making this distinction by unflinchingly looking at what I make significant ie at what I make mean something. It's not merely the significance and the meaning which is inherited: it's giving value to ie it's lending credence to  the significance making and the meaning making, which is also inherited.

Now, if you believe  what I just said, it won't have much value for you ie it won't do you much good at all. But if you can discover it for yourself, that's when it becomes truly, richly valuable. Simply owning it's you who are the author  of all the significance and of all the meaning in everything which is significant and meaningful in life, is the access to living life authentically. It's more than that actually: it's the access to transformation itself and to living life transformed.

My friend listened without once interrupting while I spoke. His generosity includes allowing me to speak my ideas into shape  (if you will) with him. Thinking ideas through is one thing. Writing  ideas down is but a small step further than thinking ideas through, yet it's not a big enough step to cause a transition into an entirely new realm. Speaking ideas out loud, on the other hand, ie trying them on for size in the presence of another listening human being, brings forth an exponentially new possibility for discovery.

When I was finished, he said "I really got what you said about (what Werner said about) '... some inherited life' as distinct from my authentic life. It doesn't disparage my inherited life. Quite the opposite, in fact: making the distinction between the two, honors both my authentic life as well as  my inherited life, while providing a relentless stand for my authentic life. However, as a belief, it's next to worthless. Until I discover it as a distinction for myself, I'm really not living my life at all:  I'm just sitting on the fence. And I'm certainly not living authentically.". "So do you still believe what Werner says?" I asked him. "I might ... but only after I've discovered it for myself" he replied, then after a brief pause, added "The thing is once I've discovered it for myself, I own it. So whether I believe him or not at that point, becomes irrelevant.".

That's  what I'm talking about: discovery (ie discovering it for yourself) makes the thing real, and makes it come alive, whereas believing it (no matter who says it, even if  it's the truth) gives no real power and no leverage ie it gives no access to living life authentically.

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