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 Things People Do

Barnhouse Napa Brews, Napa, California, USA

June 6 and 8, 2022

"Getting old ain't no place for sissies." ... Laurel Scheaf quoting Bette Davis to Laurence Platt

This essay, The Things People Do, is the companion piece to If There's Something Else, It Hasn't Come Calling Yet.

It is also the twenty eighth in an open group on People: I am indebted to Laurel Scheaf who inspired this conversation and contributed material.

She's been one of my all-time favorite people for literally decades. And along with Jack Rafferty, Gonneke Spits, and Rick Aikman, she was one of the earliest bastions of Werner's work even before that. We've laughed at the same things together. We've loved the same things together. We've cried about the same things together. Even more extraordinarily, she's one of the very, very few people I've known who's able to wield the "My way, or the highway" club in such a way that I've come to realize even on face value it'll lead to something worthwhile which I don't yet see, and so I've dropped all my resistance to it (I call that "Trust" ... with a capital tee).

Beyond my erstwhile perfunctory protest ie beyond my erstwhile automatic  perfunctory protest, her wielding the "My way, or the highway" club is never ego-centric or domineering. Rather it's always pointing at something that works which, because it's in my blind-spot, isn't yet obvious to me. At first my resistance to her or anyone's "My way, or the highway" got in the way. I simply wouldn't (couldn't  actually) let anyone  dominate me like that! But given her relentlessly impeccable track-record, in time I got to see the accuracy with which she wielded the "My way, or the highway" club cut to the chase a lot, lot faster than my own sulky truculence ever could. In time I surrendered to it and subsequently became grateful for it, becoming enamored with her coaching instead - not to mention being profoundly supported by it.

And so it was one day that I eagerly looked forward to our next scheduled conversation after she'd been away and unavailable for some time. I called her at our agreed-on time. She answered, and after the usual joyful greetings between old friends who haven't seen or spoken with each other in a while, I ante'd up with "So, what are you up to these days now that you're back?" and she (pausing at first) slowly  said "Oh ... you know, the things people do  ...", a melodic lilt in her tone.

Wait! I was stunned into silence by the subtle profundity of it. "... the things people do  ...". Really? And right there, holding my phone to my ear with my left hand, a new world of pure transformed Zen suddenly opened up and jumped out at me. The things people do? "Isn't that ... well ... everything?"  I muttered quietly to no one in particular. Doesn't that cover the entire spectrum of living-life-in-the-world? Is  there anything else? Even more pointedly, is there anything else for us to do?

No, there isn't. That's all  there is for us to do: the things people do. Exactly that. There's nothing else. It takes holding a certain line and being a certain way to live like that. And what's extraordinary about her is she does live like that all the time 24 / 7 / 365. For the decades I've been around her, it's been her modus operandi  to do ... you know ... just "the things people do", her demonstration of which and our witnessing of which gives all of us access to our own doing the things people do.

In this regard, her genius can be seen in the way she wields the "my way, or the highway" club so that rather than shutting down the space and killing off possibility, it unerringly opens it up and makes something newly available, and in the process grants total being  ie teases out pure transformed Zen. And listen (tell the truth now): who, knowingly or unknowingly, doesn't want that? It's what everyone  wants.

Try this: sit for a moment with Q): My way, or the highway? A): It's no contest  when what she makes available via the former, is total being, pure transformed Zen.


In another world, her "'my way, or the highway' club" would approximate to a Zen master's wooden broadsword.

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

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