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

Stripping It Down To The Studs

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 22, 2013

This essay, Stripping It Down To The Studs, is the sixth in a septology on Homes:
  1. In The Face Of Commitment
  2. Stellenberg Avenue
  3. Faery Cottage
  4. Creekside Cabin
  5. A House On Franklin Street
  6. Stripping It Down To The Studs
  7. The Amazing Cowboy Cottage
in that order.

It was written at the same time as I am indebted to Werner's work which inspired this conversation, and to the experience of remodeling my house at 3110 Encanto Drive, Napa  CA 94558-1816, USA which provided an analogy.

Purchased Tuesday June 20, 1989
Sold Friday March 24, 2006

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3110 Encanto Drive, Napa  CA 94558-1816, USA
My experience of managing my life is like my experience of managing my house. It's a big house - to be sure. It's at least as big as our planet. It's possibly as vast as the universe. But this conversation isn't a disclosure of how many square feet my house comprises. It's really an observation of all the choices I had  in creating my house the way it is. It's also an observation of all the choices I have  for remodeling my house now newly, given that it's turned out the way it has.

One possibility for my house is it was built by me, perfectly to my specifications, exactly to my liking. Another possibility is it's just the house I ended up owning  without having anything to do with how it got to be this way. In other words, it's the house I ended up living in without being responsible for the way it was built.

It's the second option which grabs my attention. That's the one which wakes me up. This is an uncomfortable truth to tell, frankly. It's the truth about which elements of my life for which I'm now totally and solely responsible, I didn't have any clear choice in creating ie I didn't take any responsibility  for creating.

It's brutal  confronting how my life turned out in those areas for which I didn't take full responsibility. There are also those areas in which I sensed I had some  responsibility, yet didn't take responsibility for them at the time - which is to say I didn't wake up to my responsibility in the matter until it was too late. By then, many of those areas of my life which were once malleable and easy to rearrange, had coalesced, gelled, solidified in place.

You know, it's a lot easier to rearrange the layout of a new house before  the adobe, cement, plaster, and stucco has set, and before  the paint and varnish has dried ...

... which leads me to the realization that the new house I'd purchased (ie in this analogy) which I expected to be exactly  the perfect home for me, was actually designed by someone who had none  of my personal preferences in mind. Now, as the new owner of this house, I see I have two choices. They are:

 1)  accepting the house the way it is, resigning  myself to the way the house is, tolerating the house the way it is etc. But look: whichever way I phrase this, it's really nothing less (and nothing more) than suffering  the house the way it is;

... or  ...

2)  gutting the house entirely, stripping it down to the studs  and rebuilding it from scratch, this time making it completely mine - and completely new.

Given these two choices, there's no choice really. It's a no brainer. The second choice is the one I make. It's actually become the  metaphor for any critical period of my life. I look at how I've created myself to be, and if I see it's not working, I can always strip it down to the studs again - which is to say I always have the option of breaking myself up  especially in areas where I've become too fixed  ie too static for my own good, and create myself anew, again becoming someone I love being.

Listen: I could say a thousand things about Werner's work. No, I could say a million  things about Werner's work. But if I only get to say one  thing about what makes Werner's work worthwhile, it's this:

The way you consider yourself to be, isn't fixed. It's not static. At all times under any circumstances, you have the freedom to be any way you choose. At all times under any circumstances, you have the freedom to remodel the house, you have the freedom to strip it down to the studs and refurbish it newly (so to speak) any way you choose.

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