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


Sophisticated Palate

Chicago, Illinois, USA

July 24, 2010



"Transformation shows up in my mouth."  ... 
This essay, Sophisticated Palate, is the first in the sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  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 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. Visits With A Friend IX (working title)
  2. Visits With A Friend IX II (working title)
  3. Visits With A Friend IX III (working title)
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to View From A Fallow Wheatfield.

It is also the prequel to Tempered Tornado.




It's the kind of place you'd walk right by and never give a second glance. It could have been a travel agency or a second hand bookstore. Except for a tiny sign above the door, I would have missed it completely, this famed eatery whose fare is sought by gourmands  from around the world.

"So this is it!"  I muse to myself, "Well ... never judge a book by its cover or a restaurant by its facade, Laurence.".

I'm a minute early, a long time, given the tight synchronicity of the minutely detailed planning which went into this. Ambling over to the street watching buses, cabs, and cars whizzing by, I wait - nothing going on, empty, still, yet vibrant  and breathless with anticipation.

Then, right on cue, something in the space  seems to shift subtly. I can sense  it but I can't put my finger on exactly what it is. It's as if the entire universe has just revved into a lower gear ... and when I turn around, here you are  booming "Hello Laurence!" in that rich, deep, Philadelphian accent, the blazing smile flickering across your face. I unceremoniously drop my laptop computer bag down onto the sidewalk and run  over to meet you.

No one embraces like you do. In an ordinary business as usual  hug, there's often that awkward moment when you're not sure if it's over. Go on too long, and you've overstayed your welcome. Stop too soon, and you're cold. Not with you! When it's exactly  the right time to disengage, very briefly you squeeze tighter  then let go. It's perfect. Even your hugs are completed with exactitude and certainty.

The appropriately black clad Maître D'  shows us to a secluded table backdropped by a large beautifully executed painting of a man holding a bottle of wine and a woman holding (we think) a chicken. An animated discussion ensues over what it really is she's holding. Whatever it is, it's food related - on that we agree. Like everything else in here, someone has carefully chosen this piece to complement the ambience seamlessly.

It's quiet. I like that. I can hear myself think. I can hear you  think. But it's not quiet in service to a cerebral  encounter, a piqued discussion of intellectual matters and important  principles when even the slightest noise would be an inconvenient distraction. Here it's quiet in service to just being together. And I slowly realize the great thing about being here with you in this quiet, tasteful place is this is total relaxation  in the most elegant way imaginable.

Make no error: I'd be glad to be hard at work with you also. I might even prefer  it actually, given the opportunity it is. But this, in contrast, is a rare time to relax with you outside of the supersonic speed of your endless finely choreographed schedule, and it's a really, really rich opportunity. No, it's way  more than merely rich:  it's priceless.

The specialness and rarity of being here like this in this particular place isn't lost on me, and suddenly I'm totally moved. Yet unlike other times, no tears come out of the holes in my face. Instead, what does come out of my face is a warm bright beaming light. I can feel it. I let it come, totally uninhibited. It's real and uncomplicated. Totally authentic.

The chef is brilliant at what he does. The reputation of his cuisine has preceded our arrival. It's clear when the meal arrives it's been prepared meticulously, passionately. You can't fake that. At first I resist sticking a fork into anything. The layout on the plate is so artfully arranged I'd rather frame it and hang it on my wall.

I, always conscious of my diet, usually focus on basic wholesome, healthy food. Gourmet food (which doesn't imply it's not also wholesome and healthy) of this caliber is in a rarefied world all of its own. This  food and these tastes are inspired. The waiter stops by again to ask if everything is alright, and you applaud, clapping your hands together, smiling and nodding your head in obvious delight. He gets it. Now he's beaming too.

All told, the value here (I notice the menu prices won't break the bank either) is extraordinary. It seems to me the way to maximize the experience of dining in an establishment like this is to allow small portions to sit in your mouth then let the subtleties of taste reveal themselves. No eat and dash  here. A place like this is clearly for the sophisticated palate.

But the five star  gourmet menu and what goes into my mouth in this place notwithstanding, it's what comes out of  your mouth that I'm really here for. "Transformation" you've been known to say "shows up in my mouth.". And in the environment you mostly work in, there's more formality, more structure in which something's at stake. There's something to get, and the process to getting it can be intricate and even arduous. But in the end, something always reveals itself which makes life easier, more enjoyable, richer, and more interesting. What I notice is even in this less formal, less structured laid back  environment, the presence  accompanying those revelations is already here as who you really are, and it keeps showing up again and again behind, as, and in anything and everything you speak about.

I'm totally comfortable and at ease. I even tell a joke. That's how effortless it is. Uncertain if I'll bomb, I say "I'd like to tell a joke" a tad formally. It's about a monk who's taken vows of silence in a monastery. It works! It goes down well. But the thing is I'm not telling a joke because the conversation has reached one of those awkward impasses conversations sometimes reach, and needs a filler. Far from it. It's an appropriate joke which illustrates  a point I'm making. We laugh. We laugh both because it's wicked funny  and also because when best friends have a chance to laugh together, it's something really special. The day God loses his sense of humor will be a sad day for heaven.



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