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 Girl Who Became A Tree

Banhoek, Stellenbosch, South Africa

February 22, 2015



"Who Werner Erhard is for me is the space in which the love of my life shows up." ... Laurence Platt

This essay, The Girl Who Became A Tree, is the companion piece to Where You Go When You Die.

It is also the fourth in a group of four written in Cape Town, February 2015:
  1. South Africa Leadership
  2. Wuudhu
  3. Rite De Passage
  4. The Girl Who Became A Tree
in that order.

It is also the sequel to Farm Girl.

The group of four written in Cape Town, February 2015 is the sequel to In The Space Of Possibility, and is also the prequel to Completing Cape Town, February 2015.

I am indebted to Su Ball who inspired this conversation and contributed material.




She was well liked, indeed loved  (I myself adored her) by an enormous cross section of people from all backgrounds, from all ideologies, from all creative persuasions, from all creeds. Her gift to me was to always create the experience for me that I was the  one. But it was more than that. It was more than merely her gift to only me. It was her gift to everyone. Everyone, being around her, got the experience from her that they were the one. Hers was a rare, beautiful, natural ability to create this for everyone. And the thing about that was, it was long before the advent of transformation in my life. It was at a time when being the  one was an experience someone else  created for me - it was never and couldn't ever have been (there was literally no possibility for it) an experience I could have created for myself. That came later.

When I was told she had died, it wasn't something I believed. No, the truth of course is I actually didn't want  to believe it. It didn't fit. And it didn't fit, not because it was incongruent with my personal feelings for her (and there was at least some of that too). It was it didn't fit because it was incongruent with who and what she was for the world. Secondarily, it was I who had lost something personal: an opportunity to experience her again face to face one more time. Primarily, it was the world ie you and I, all of us, who had lost someone special, a radiating power of love who lit up dark spaces at a time and in a country which sorely needed its dark spaces lit.

I found out she had been cremated and her ashes sprinkled under an olive tree. I made a mental note to visit the location, wherever it was, someday. I did not know when it would be, and I didn't know what it would look like or how I would get there. But this sort of thing has a way of happening all by itself anyway. So I waited.

Photography by Su Ball

Banhoek, Stellenbosch, South Africa

3:18:43pm Sunday February 22, 2015
"Laurence Under Olive Tree"
It's the most extraordinarily beautiful warm summer's day imaginable. The area is ringed with a cathedral  of craggy mountains - as if they were specially placed here millennia ago, in readiness for this moment, to showcase this olive tree, one olive tree among hundreds in this olive orchard. Her presence is everywhere. It's palpable. She's in the very air pungent  with the bouquet of olive leaves which fills my nose and lungs. I breathe in deeply, as if to inhale as much of her as I can.

At first, all I can do is stand flat-footed and look at it, take it in, this olive tree she has become - which is not a whole lot different than the way all I could do was stand and look at her when I first laid eyes on her. Then, asking permission, I lean against her trunk, going totally limp, feeling her bark's soft roughness against my cheek. Something leaves me, a sadness I suppose. I stand here, completely emptied ... until the emptiness is filled with a love which I notice (it's very clear) has transcended the arbitrary veil between life and death. I've let her go. Yet she's all ours now.

Again asking permission, I sit down under it / her, enjoying her shade, experiencing a very special conversation  with her. She is not here and yet she is here. The fact is she is more here now and more present  now than many of the people I interact with daily are. I catch myself thinking how otherworldly  this is ... until I realize my interpretation is getting in the way. So I give it up, and I just sit here, being with her, being love with her. "I love you" I think to her. "I adore  you" she's saying to me. It's so perfect. After all, that's what's left to say when you've said everything else.

Entire worlds have come and gone since I sat down. It seems like I've been sitting here in this cathedral, in this amphitheatre, forever. And now it's time to go. Before I leave, I pluck a generous sprig of olive leaves to take home to the Cowboy Cottage with me. I will press them between the pages of a heavy book. I want them for their pungent bouquet which, when I breathe it in deeply, will fill my nose and lungs all over again, allowing me to inhale her zesty freshness again any time I want to.

Before life transforms, it takes someone else to create the experience that we're the one, for us. After transformation, it's an experience we can create for ourselves - if indeed it's an experience we want to create. What it is, in its purest form, is the experience of real, thrilling love. But the thing is you don't have to go looking for love when it is where you come from  (as Werner says). And she knew it. She always knew it. She was born that way. It's true to say she was lightyears ahead of her time.



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