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 Very Best Of Me

Cosentino, Yountville, California, YSA

December 28, 2013



It's truly one of the most freeing views I've ever tried on, then taken on for myself for life. To be straight about this, it's something I got in a conversation with Werner rather than something I came up with originally for myself. So in case you were wondering, yes it is better to say it's one of the most freeing views I've ever taken on for myself for life, rather than saying it's one of the most freeing views I've ever created  for myself for life.

It's true when you take on someone's view for your life, any  view, you still have to create it (which is to say you still have to re-create it) for yourself if it's going to have any power. That much is obvious. If you share a view with me ie your way (or one of your ways) of looking at Life, I still have to re-create it for myself to try it on - I can't look at Life through your eyes, yes? However, I prefer to give credit where credit is due (things seem to work better that way ie acknowledging Werner is pragmatic  for me). Here's what it is:

There's no top to this mountain we're climbing. This mountain which is our lives, seems from time to time to have a top which is within reach, and it sometimes seems that if we climb a little more, if we climb a little higher, if we climb a little faster, if we climb a little more determinedly, we could reach the top. But then when we reach the top, we catch sight of another  top even higher than the one we just ascended, one we either didn't see before or which was hidden from our view before. And listen (who knows?): it's also entirely possible this mountain called Life keeps on growing taller  especially when the top is in sight ie especially when we're convinced we've reached the top.

So I've shifted the way I look at the mountain of my life. My focus used to be determined by the reason I climbed this mountain in the first place: to reach the top - because that (it seemed) is what we're supposed to do. Now my focus is on just climbing.

Is there any point in climbing if we'll never reach the top because the mountain keeps on growing taller as we climb? The answer is unequivocally no there's not. There's no point. It's empty and meaningless. And it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless. So why climb at all? I climb because I love climbing. That's it. The mountain keeps growing taller as I climb. So I'll never reach the top. The erstwhile goal of reaching the top is pointless. It's never going to happen. I climb because the truth is I love climbing. This view of Life as climbing a mountain with no top, works.

That's what was in the space one evening at the Cowboy Cottage as we sat outside, talking in the brisk clean air, warmed by an open fire I set in the barbecue kettle, watching the moon rise. I love talking with her. In her conversation I hear the listening I need to speak to  if I'm going to call myself a communicator. Communication isn't speaking to that which I already know for myself. Communication is speaking to another's listening - whatever that listening may be. With regard to living Life as climbing a mountain with no top, her listening, while generous and attentive, was a jumble of "Yeah, but  ..."s, "What if ..."s, and "How about ..."s - you know, she expressed doubt and confusion and skepticism, yet all the while a genuine interest as well.

"Yeah, but what if you doubt yourself" she asked. "What do you do when you're climbing the mountain and you doubt your ability? What if you're disappointed? What do you do when you're disappointed in your own progress? How about sadness?". That's pretty good, I thought. We often don't cop to our own sadness. Yet it's almost always there in the background in one degree or another. "What do you do when you're sad because you can't climb high enough or long enough to achieve something worthwhile?" ... on and on ... you know, she had it on automatic. But I'll grant her credit: she was on to something.

"Look" I said, "if you can let self-doubt, and disappointment, and sadness just be  ... if you can let them be like the weather, coming and going, ever changing by itself, if you can grant them the space to be there without wanting them gone, things actually go a lot easier and they'll disappear by themselves a lot sooner. For me, my own self-doubt, disappointment, and sadness are my humanity. They're qualities which make me uniquely human. They're qualities which make Laurence uniquely Laurence. I don't have a problem with them showing up when they do. They are, in fact, the very best of me. They're qualities to embrace. They're mine, all mine!".

I was about to continue. I wanted to say more, long after I had actually completed making my point. My mouth half opened to start my next sentence when I noticed a new look on her face. She had just gotten something. I could tell it was profound. I didn't want to risk interfering with it, whatever it was. So I shut my mouth instead, and waited.

Then she finally spoke. "That's interesting. I never saw that before" she said. "All that stuff, all the self-doubt, all the disappointment, all the sadness, has always been the reason I climbed this mountain in the first place: I climbed to get away from it. I've never - not once  - regarded all that stuff as the very best of me, as my humanity, as what makes me uniquely human, as something to embrace. And it is, isn't it?".

Interesting indeed ...  "Embrace it without making it significant, and still climb" I said, "only now you'll climb in order to climb  because you love climbing - not in order to reach the top (nor in order to get away from the bottom). Do you get how much freedom there is in this?" I asked. But I didn't need to. She got it, I could tell - just by looking at her face.



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