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

The Dispassionate View

Grgich Hills, Rutherford, California, USA

December 23, 2012

This essay, The Dispassionate View, is the companion piece to Source Of Aliveness.

An old friend of mine called recently asking to come by and see me. He sounded completely distraught. His partner of nearly thirty five years had died. When he arrived he had a brave yet tear stained smile on his face. Before too long he broke down. I hugged him as he cried, his sobs wracking his body.

This, I thought, the death of a loved one, would be an interesting subject for a conversation to have with him in the context of "It's OK the way it is and it's OK the way it isn't.". But during his time of grieving wasn't the time to have it with him. That's not because "It's OK the way it is and it's OK the way it isn't" as a context  isn't applicable in such situations - it's applicable in any  situation, should you choose to take it on. It's because given his grief, it was almost totally unlistenable  for him.

In the big picture, this is the way it is for us human beings. We come, we live, then we go. That we're almost never prepared  for this eventuality, that we're almost never prepared for the 1,000% certainty of the "then  ... we  ... go"  part, that we're surprised, shocked, saddened, even diminished by it, is such an essential demonstration of being human. It's the way we are. It's a way from which no one is immune.

In a still bigger picture, this is the way it turns out. We're born, we live, we die. It's been turning out this way for millennia. It'll keep on turning out this way for millennia more to come. When he told me she died because of a rare disease, I thought "No she didn't" (without speaking out loud) "she died because her life ended.". He blamed the disease for her death, and was distraught because in his view it killed her - which reveals how thrown  we are to believe that if we don't contract disease, we'll live forever. In other words we're thrown to believe disease cheats us  of ie steals from us the immortality we expect as our birthright.

Invariably this mistaken, hopelessly (ie humanly)  naïve belief leaves us ill-prepared for the eventuality, for the 1,000% certainty of a life ending. We blame disease for taking our loved ones from us in order to avoid confronting that we're then stuck with the incompletions  in our relationships with them.

In a yet even bigger  picture, it doesn't mean anything. And it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't mean anything. Making it mean something is plain arrogance. We come, we live, then we go. We're born, we live, we die. Meaning making machines  that we are, we want so desperately  to have it all mean something. It doesn't. And we can't bear  that we live lives which have no meaning at all except for the meaning we create and ascribe to them.

Paradoxically this completely dis-passionate view calls for compassion. All  of the above (especially given it doesn't mean anything and it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't mean anything) calls for compassion. There's a time for Conversations For Transformation. And there are times when Conversations For Transformation are inappropriate. When someone's just lost their life partner of thirty five years and is grief stricken, it's no time to say "It doesn't mean anything.". It's inappropriate because it's unlistenable. At such times hugs work better. It's my intention to have such a conversation with him later. But not until it's listenable. When the rawness of his grief has passed and it can be listened, then it would be appropriate. But not now.

I can wait.

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