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 Sound Of Your Voice

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, and Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, and Silverado Vineyards, Stags Leap Appellation
California, USA

April 3, 2015

"If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." ... Ludwig Wittgenstein

This essay, The Sound Of Your Voice, is the sixth in an open group Conversations With A Friend:
  1. Privilege At Daybreak In The Battle Between Good And Evil
  2. Future Perfect
  3. This Is What It Means To Be!
  4. Empty Cup
  5. Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes
  6. The Sound Of Your Voice
  7. Conversations With A Friend VII
  8. Space For Redemption: When "I'm Sorry!" Isn't Enough
  9. What Did You Do To Me?
  10. You Are Always With Me
in that order.

It is also the sequel to I've Seen The Future And The Future Is You.

Coming in to a conversation like this without being fully prepared, is just plain stoopid. Not being fully prepared is more than merely wasting the privilege: it's denying  the privilege.

That said, what gets me as I prepare myself, is I'm stuck up to my knees in the mire of "I've said it all before" and / or "I've shared it all before" and / or "I've asked it all before". It seems as if I can't come up with anything new. I've got pages and pages and pages of A4  sheets placed neatly in order in a see-through plastic sleeve, each covered with all the sequenced, prioritized ideas, shares, and questions I've collected so far in preparing myself for this. Yet when I tell the truth about them, there's not a single one  with even the slightest iota of scintillating, sparkling bright newness. Every one of them is tainted by "been there / done that / said, heard, and seen it all before".

I'm acutely aware that not being able to come up with anything new, isn't working for me. It vexes me - so much so, that I'm within a razor's breadth of calling it off (or at least requesting a postponement until I can get myself fully prepared).

What? Call it off?  Are you nuts?!  I can't believe I'm even thinking it. But I am. Wow!

And then, after about three weeks of being in and out of this dithering ie after almost a month of this hopeless stuckness, it dawns on me. BREAKTHROUGH!  What I realize is I got the ideas, I got the shares, I got the questions ... but what I don't  got is the context  for them all ie what I don't got is the possibility  for this conversation ie the possibility for having it in the first place. With that, I take another blank A4 sheet from the ream ... and it doesn't take me long to get what's been missing for almost a month. With my gold Cross  propelling pencil I write "CONTEXT:" near the top of the sheet in one inch block capitals. Underneath it, also in one inch letters, I write "Friends", and I underline both words twice with a flourish. Then I stand back and look at what I've just written, staring at it, taking it in. Is that it? Yes that's it. That's right. That's  the possibility: "Friends". Now  I'm fully prepared.

Not a moment too soon: here you are, bang on schedule. Even though I was wide awake before, now I'm standing bolt upright and paying attention.

Inside Of A Possibility Called "Friends"

I try to sound and look cool (it's so juvenile, I know ...) but my voice quavers and my eyes get misty, symptoms of my total and utter delight. I don't make any attempt to hide them. Soon they subside. We both laugh. It's good, healthy belly laughter. Just "Hello!" makes us laugh.

You ask how I'm doing. If anyone else asked me the same question, it would be small talk, chit-chat, and I would politely answer, yet I would wiggle out of it as soon as possible. But not when you ask it. When you ask it, it's an empty space, an opening, a clearing, a vast canvas  on which I can paint anything. I'd pre-determined my answer to this inevitable question isn't going to devolve into the pulp fiction "Laurence and his story". So I give you the concentrated version, the two minute précis  of my entire life as it is today. In terse, complete bursts I cover family, health, finances, and creativity. And it's all great. It really is. It's my time. When I finish, you say it makes you feel good. I wasn't expecting that at all. It makes you "feel ... good"?  Now that's  an acknowledgement. We laugh again. More good, healthy belly laughter.

Then something extraordinary happens (which is to say, then something else  extraordinary happens) which gives me a sense of other-worldliness  which endures through the rest of the conversation.


"Other-worldliness" is an interesting idea for me because what a sense of "other-worldliness" really is, is an underlined, emphasized sense of "this-worldliness" and not really "other-worldliness" at all, yes?

As long as that's clear, then deeming it a sense of "other-worldliness" is good enough for jazz.


What happens is we're in this conversation inside of a possibility I've invented called "Friends", and I share with you "Everyone loves you" - which is a mandatory share from me in meetings like this because a) it's true, and also because b) countless  people who love you, request I let you know they love you. And you say "Thanks Buddy!" ... which so catches me off guard that for a moment or two I'm struck dumb ie I'm rendered speechless. "Thanks Buddy!"  you say? Inside of a possibility I invented called "Friends"?  Inside of a possibility I haven't yet told you  I invented called "Friends" for this conversation? Now that's  cool - pretty darn god-damned  cool, I would say. It's the complete antithesis of juvenile cool, I would say.

Being Within Earshot Of The Sound Of Your Voice

There are some things which are distinguished as being located within a field called view. If you are within view of something, it means (quite simply) you can see it from where you are. For example, if you're in the Marina district of San Francisco, you're within view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then there are other things which are distinguished as being located within a field called earshot. If you are within earshot of something, it means (quite simply) you can hear  it from where you are. For example, I was born in London England within earshot of the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church. This is what distinguishes me as a cockney. If you can hear the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church from where you're born, you're a cockney. Being a cockney is something which is distingished by being (born) within earshot of something.

Being with you is, I've realized, also something which is distinguished as being within earshot of something. That something is the sound of your voice. I mean that quite literally and comprehensively. If I'm within earshot of the sound of your voice, then I'm with you - regardless of whatever else may or may not transpire in the relationship between us.

It's in what you say ie it's in what you speak. It's in the information and the processes and the possibilities your speaking brings forth. It's your word. I know you as your word. I also know you  know you, as your word. I get there's something to be gotten (something with enormous  value) from inquiring into what integrity is as honoring your word  (as distinct from inquiring into what integrity is as, say, merely keeping  your word). But all the inquiries aside, and all the papers written on integrity aside, there's no doubt ie I have total certainty  integrity is honoring your word, just by listening you  - which is to say, just be being within earshot of the sound of your voice.

You are what integrity sounds like and looks like in action. You, beyond all the secondary intellectual understandings of integrity, are what it looks like when integrity's alive, present, and vibrant in the world. And it's all to be gotten from the sound of your voice ie it's all to be gotten by being within earshot of the sound of your voice. Furthermore, to be within earshot of the sound of your voice is to bring forth my own voice as the foundation of my integrity ie it's to bring forth my own voice as the vehicle for who I am in the world as my word. This is what it is to be with you.

But it's more than that (and that's a lot, I know). It's waaay  more than that. It's also the sound of your voice as its melodics, as its harmonics, as its timbre. There's no roughness to it, there's no raspiness to it, there's no edge to it. The totality of softness, gentleness, smoothness, and yet great power  coming through its rich, deep, Philadelphian accent, is disconcerting.

Of all the people I've ever met, there's no one I know who speaks more than you.


I said "Of all the people I've ever met, there's no one I know who speaks  more than you" not "Of all the people I've ever met, there's no one I know who talks  more than you.".

There are worlds of difference between speaking and talking, the essential one of which is: the former is generative, creative, and includes bringing forth, and the latter is narrative, descriptive, and includes gossip.

But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.


Listening you, I realize I myself don't operate my voice in quite the same way as you do - neither as an instrument  (if you will) nor as the vehicle for who I am in the world as my word. For starters, there are many, many hours in each of my days when I don't use my voice at all - sometimes because I'm not with people, sometimes because there's nothing I want to speak about, and sometimes when I simply choose not to speak at all (which, by the way, translates directly  to when I choose to hide out).

Everything you are is your voice. Everything you are is your language. You've continuously engaged people in this conversation for transformation for close to fifty years non-stop, 24 / 7 / 365. Yet there's no weariness in your voice. There's no tiredness in it. There's no hastiness or impatience in it. Every word, every syllable is carefully articulated and pleasing to my ears - you're just wonderful  with people.

Your fifty year non-stop 24 / 7 / 365 conversation for transformation voice is so much more than merely the speaking person's equivalent of an ultra-marathoner's stamina or of an ironman's impossible physical feat. It's ... a ... demonstration.

A Relationship Out Of Time

I become aware of the inexorable passing of time. I realize no amount of time with you, is ever enough. Even too much  time with you would never be enough (as David Bowie may have said). But the duration of our relationship isn't measured in ordinary units of time. This sort of relationship happens out of  time. This sort of relationship shows up  in the very context which allows for  time. Of all the people I've ever met, even an hour with you (no, even a few short moments with you) is all of eternity.

The time comes for you to say goodbye. I get that you love me unconditionally, that you love people unconditionally (and with that, I realize you've reciprocated my "Everyone loves you" for everyone who loves you). We've reached a space in our conversation of everything's alright, that it's OK, that there's nothing wrong. It's not a suggestion  on your part, and neither is it wishful thinking  on my part. It is  all alright. It is  all OK. There really is  nothing wrong. It's all whole and complete.

Now (to be sure) there's not much evidence for that on the TV and and in the newspapers. But in the sound of your voice, it's here. The alrightness, it's here. The OK‑ness, it's here. The nothing's wrong, it's here. The unconditional love, it's here. It's all  here. And the thing is you generate  it, so it's here ... and if I don't generate it, it's not here. That's no longer a mystery. It's how this works. The demonstration proves it.

And now you're gone - as suddenly as you came. Goodbye. À bientôt. Thank You for coming and speaking with me. It's a gift and a privilege.

Clear View

It's quiet now. Very quiet. All of a sudden the internal states have gone very quiet. All of a sudden the constant, incessant, cacophony in my head ie the machinery  has gone very quiet. All of a sudden the traffic, the outdoor noises etc have gone very quiet. All of a sudden it's gone very quiet out-here. All of a sudden, here I am with nothing going on. It's a beautiful space.

I take the rest of the day off. I drive up a hill on the Vaca mountains bordering Napa Valley's east side. I park my car. I walk around. The view from up here is awesome, breathtaking.

Photograph courtesy Auberge du Soleil

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