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 Significance - Not What Happened

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

May 1, 2015



"I'm pretty certain that when people get stuck in grief or as victims, that what keeps them stuck is the significance - not what happened. You know, that's a terrible thing to say to somebody who's been victimized, to somebody who's lost someone close to them. But I'm sorry: I know that that's where I've got to get ultimately."
 ... 
This essay, The Significance - Not What Happened, is the twenty third in an open group of Experiences Of A Friend:
  1. Stepping Back
  2. At Home As Self
  3. Empty Windows
  4. Futile Like A Freedom
  5. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  6. Werner As Intention
  7. Who He Is For Himself
  8. Source Quote
  9. Puzzle Solved, Mind Unraveled
  10. Eye To Eye
  11. Mystical Connection II
  12. Relentless
  13. Being Around Werner
  14. Being Always In Action
  15. Shaken Up And Teary
  16. On Being Sad
  17. The Complete Presentation
  18. Force Of Nature
  19. Everyone's In Love With Everyone
  20. I'm Old School
  21. Werner At The Speed Of Choice
  22. I Get Who You Are From What They Do
  23. The Significance - Not What Happened
  24. You Know I Love You - And I Know You Love Me
  25. Speaking To People's Relationship With Werner
  26. A Master At Being (And Having People Be)
  27. Werner As Source
  28. A Man Who's All There
  29. My Heart And You
  30. Mind Control
  31. Again And Again And Again And Again And Again And Again
  32. Unwavering
so far, in that order.




When I hear you say " ... what keeps them stuck is the significance - not what happened", I do the proverbial double take.

The clarity of it just rocks me. You've just expounded books and books and books and hours and hours and hours if not years  of research and analysis in one terse sentence. You're not blaming anyone for anything - in this case, grief stricken people and / or those who are the victim of someone or some thing, a crime maybe (I could add specifics: victims of rape, victims of war atrocities ... you know the list could go on and on and on). You're not even saying who or what's responsible  for what happened. Heck, you're not even suggesting a cure for or even a way out  of what happened. You're simply making an assertion about what keeps people stuck: it's the significance - not what happened. It's just an assertion. And Man! It's awesome.

On another occasion we could focus on whether or not there's someone or something to blame. On yet another occasion we could focus on who or what's responsible. But not this time. This time we're just focusing on what keeps us stuck. There's what happened, whatever it was. Then there's the significance. For most people (almost everyone actually - including me ie especially  me) it's what happened which keeps us stuck: someone died, someone left us, someone raped us, a gang of terrorists damaged our livelihood etc etc ... and that's  what keeps us stuck. There's a lot of agreement in the world that it's what happened, whatever it was, that keeps us stuck.

But no. It's not that. You're saying it's the significance  that keeps us stuck - not what happened. A 100 watt light bulb goes off in my brain. My first thought is "WOW!". My second thought is "You're amazing. How did you figure that out?". And my third is "I have very little say in what happened. I do have some say in what I make significant. And you, Sir, just put me right back in complete charge of my life!".

We make no distinction regarding the source of significance in life. It's a gray area. And we leave it gray. We say certain things and events are significant. But we don't claim authorship of the significance which is assigned to things and events. The key for me, I realize, is to own  being the author of what occurs for me as significant in my life. Being the author of what occurs for me as significant in my life, isn't to take the blame  for it. It's just a stone cold flat footed  look at the source of significance in my life. Listen: nothing is significant. Really! Nothing. Things and events in and of themselves  have no significance ... at least not until I deem  them to be significant. And mostly when I deem them to be significant, I do so automatically. Now you've differentiated between what happened, and the significance ... and you're asserting that being stuck is not a function of what happened but rather a function of the significance - and as I'm listening to you, I'm thinking to myself "Oh ... my ... God!  ...".

This may be, I would imagine, one of the ways those people who've gotten themselves unstuck from being raped, have accomplished this; indeed, it may be one of the ways those people who've gotten themselves unstuck from being held in Nazi concentration camps, have accomplished this.

I let in again "I have very little say in what happened. I do have some say in what I make significant.". It's one of those moments of pure epiphany:  even if I can't change what happened, indeed even if it's too late  to change what happened, I can always choose to be responsible for the significance. And the proof of your assertion is the index of stuckness takes a sudden and dramatic nosedive the moment I take responsibility for the significance. The hypothesis has been tested and found to be valid.

But here's the thing: it may not even be necessary to take responsibility for the significance of a thing or event in order to get unstuck - as useful and as heroic as it may be to do so. It may actually be sufficient to simply make the distinction  between significance, and what happened, in order to get unstuck.

In the latter resides the true unbridled power and brilliance of your work.



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