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

Three Stairs At A Time

Honig Vineyards, Rutherford, California, USA

November 2, 2012

This essay, Three Stairs At A Time, is the companion piece to It's OK If The Guru Is Irritable.

It is also the eighth in an open group Visits With A Friend Prequels:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Eye Of The Needle
  3. Secret Service
  4. Everyone Loves You
  5. Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural
  6. View From A Fallow Wheatfield
  7. Flying
  8. Three Stairs At A Time
  9. Something Fierce, Something Wonderful
  10. Serving High
  11. Simple But Not Easy
  12. A Request Asked Harder
in that order.

It is also, with Something Fierce, Something Wonderful and Serving High and Simple But Not Easy, the prequel to the eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.

I am indebted to William Lee "Billy" Clayton III and to Bhagavan Das who inspired this conversation.


I've written Three Stairs At A Time like a painting collage  (creative interpretation) rather than like a photograph (factual account). It comprises

 1)  vignettes which really happened in the past,
2)  one or two possibilities for the present / future, and
3)  a dream sequence.

"You're up!" she says to me, smiling. She's not smiling with amusement. Hers isn't even a greeting smile really. Although she's happy, it isn't a smile because she's  happy. Rather it's a smile for what's about to happen for me. And she knows  what's about to happen for me. "Thank You!" I say, slowly and pointedly. "You're welcome" she says. It's a bit too cliché‑ic for me - at least it could  be. But, after all, it's just my interpretation. So I say again "No really, Thank You!", more firmly this time. "You're welcome," she says again, with exactly the same intonation as before, "have a good meeting.".

To get to our meeting, I have to go down a flight of stairs, cross over an open space, then climb up another flight of stairs. Carefully, slowly, sedately  I turn and head towards the first flight of stairs. But as soon as I reach the top of the stairs, it's as if the afterburners  of my F15 Strike Eagle  jet kick in. I'm catapulted  down the stairs. I'm taking three stairs at a time  and still I can't get myself down them fast enough. My hands grasp the railings on each side. Now I'm actually pulling  myself down  the stairs with my arms - even faster than my legs can move me. Yet I still can't do it fast enough.

When I'm four stairs from the bottom I jump for the floor, landing about five feet in front of the staircase, breaking immediately into a run - no, a sprint. I'm flying so fast I nearly lose my footing after my second stride. The thing is I'm so alert that I'm thinking  faster than I'm running ... so just as a face plant  seems imminent, I still have enough presence of mind  to lower first my one hand and then my other hand to the floor coming up fast to greet me - for a brief moment I'm running on my hands and on my feet  before I recover my balance and am able to resume running fully upright ("Phew!"  escapes my thoughts and pops audibly out of my mouth) continuing to fly, barely slowed, toward the second staircase.

Closer and closer ... I can't wait!  Five feet from the second staircase I leap towards it, landing securely on the fourth stair. Carried forward and upward by my momentum I run  up the stairs, again taking three stairs at a time, making (surprisingly) very little noise.

In one bound I reach the top of the stairs with a leap from the third stair from the top. It's enough of a leap to carry me up two more  stairs - that is, if there were  two more stairs. Reaching the top of the stairs is a triumph. Ordinarily, reaching the top of a flight of stairs is seldom deemed to be a triumph. However, reaching the top of this  flight of stairs is exactly that: a triumph.

Now, finally, I'm in front of the door, completely out of breath ... and ecstatic. Breathing in gasps, my chest expands and contracts, heaving rapidly. I pause, catching my breath. I ready my fist and am about to knock ... but then, on second thought, I hold back. As my chest heaves slower, I realize I've got more to do before proceeding than merely catching my breath. So I stand here, flat footed, slack shouldered, until I'm really  calm and totally relaxed. Now my breath has normalized completely. Everything in the corridor is quiet and still. For the first time I notice recessed shelves with vases filled minimalistically (ie brilliantly  minimalistically) with orchids, and huge white canvas prints daubed with plain black watercolor paint from oversized brushes demonstrating the gentle yet electrifying Japanese Zen art of calligraphy.

I straighten my collar and tuck in my shirt where it's pulled up from my belt. Slowly I raise my hands, lower my head and, with the heels of my thumbs against my temples, smooth back my hair on the sides, patting it down on the top with my fingers. When I'm finally ready, collected, and the hyperdrive which got me here has come to a completely empty stop, only then do I reach out and knock on the door - once, pause, and then only once again.

Without waiting for an answer (given the protocol for this scheduled occasion, it's not expected), I grip the doorknob and turn it. It has some weight  to it, a nice heft. As the door opens, I see the room's interior pleasantly lit - brilliantly so in fact, but not overpoweringly bright. With my hand still holding the doorknob, I call out decisively but not too loudly, announcing myself: "It's Laurence.". A moment of silence which seems like an eternity, follows. I'm happy - no, elated - no, ecstatic. It's a very high space. I'm here, fully present, not expecting anything, glad and appreciative to be with whatever's to come next. It's a space of anything's possible. Mostly it's a space supercharged  with love and anticipation.

That's when, mingling into my reverie, I hear his unmistakable voice coming from somewhere inside the room: "Oh good!  Hi Lar. Come in.".

At the sound of it, in a split-second I go from standing stock still to one powerful flowing movement entering the room completely. Then I pull the door firmly closed behind my back until it latches (not slams) with a solid click.

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