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 Way I Am

Landmark Direct Access: Creating And Living A Future You Really Want Course, Broadway, San Francisco, California, USA

December 11, 2011



This essay, The Way I Am, is the companion piece to The Way We Are.

It is also the seventh in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: I am indebted to Angie Mattingly who inspired this conversation.




For starters, I'm not the way I am.

Hold on, Laurence. You just said "I'm not the way I am.". Isn't that an impossible statement?  Isn't it impossible for me to be not  the way I am? Likewise, isn't it impossible for me to not be  the way I am, or for me not  to be the way I am? And isn't it impossible for you not to be the way you are? Isn't it as impossible for me not to be the way I am, as it is for me not to be here?  (the statement "I'm not here" is impossible, yes?).

When I first really got "I'm not the way I am" (although it sounds impossible), it was the onset of the possibility of enormous  freedom.

Let me explain.

If you'd asked me before I got "I'm not the way I am" to define (or at least to take a shot at defining) what it is to be content, I would have spoken in terms of being complete with the way I am, or in terms of being happy  with the way I am ... or something like that. I would have said something like being content means I'm OK  with the way I am. I still think that's a pretty good way of saying what it is to be content. So if I say "I'm not the way I am", what does it mean? Does it mean I'm not content? If I say "I'm not the way I am", does it preclude the possibility  of being content?

Hold that thought. I'll get back to being content in a moment.

Now: when I say "I'm not the way I am" (although it sounds impossible), I'd prefer to be speaking  it rather than writing  it so you could hear  where the emphasis is rather than trying to guess where the emphasis is by reading it. If I were speaking it, you'd hear the emphasis isn't on "not" - as in "I'm not  the way I am". That would  be impossible. Neither is it on "I am" - as in "I'm not the way I am". That would also be impossible, albeit with a different emphasis. Rather, it's on "the way"  - as in "I'm not the way  I am".

The difference, while deceptively subtle, is profound - not to mention profoundly freeing. It's profound because "the way" I am isn't  "the way" I am - really it isn't. "The way" I am is simply "a  way" I am. There is  no "the  way" I am. The way I'm being at any particular moment in time is only one way out of many  ways I could possibly be. My way of being at any particular moment in time is simply "a  way" of being. It's not fixed.

If there's an access to freedom, then that's it right there. An access to freedom is recognizing my way of being at any particular moment in time isn't "the" way I am. It's simply "a" way I am. It's simply "a" way of being. It's not "the" way of being. It's not the way I am.

Resignation (which is to say when I experience being resigned) is a function of giving over to being "the way I am" - as if  there's a "the  way" I am. Seen like this, resignation (a rampant malaise) is actually an illusory  state. There's no "the  way" I am. At any particular moment in time, there's only "a way" I'm being. Given there's no "the way" I am, being resigned to "a way" I am can only be fleeting at best.

Being content (I said I'd get back to being content in a moment) isn't a function of being complete with the way I am, nor it is a function of being happy with the way I am because there's no  "the way" I am. Rather, being content is a function of being OK with the context  I am, the context in which all  the "a way"s I am show up whenever  they show up. Being content is also a function of being OK with being  the context I am, the context in which all the "a way"s I am show up whenever they show up.

<aside>

Shifting from any of the "a way"s I am to any other "a way" I am at will  at any time (which is to say generating  a new "a way" of being at will at any time) is a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

<un-aside>

When we started, I said "I'm not the way I am.". Now that I've made clear what I mean by that, you can get it's not an impossible statement. It's not impossible like "I'm not here" is. It's accurate. The way I am isn't  the way I am. What I refer to when I say "the way I am" is really only "a"  way I am. There is no  "the way I am". Indeed, "the way I am" is at best only "the way I'm being at any particular moment in time". It's not fixed. It's merely one of many possible ways of being  I'm free to generate at will at any time.



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