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


Napa Union High School Auditorium, Napa, California, USA

June 3, 2010

"Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get." ... Forrest Gump

"Life is like a box of tools: you never know what you're gonna need." ... Laurence Platt

This essay, Toolbox, is the companion piece to Futile Like A Freedom.

A good toolbox is stocked with tools which may seem to have contradictory uses. A ripsaw  makes things jagged and separate. But a sander makes things smooth, and a clamp holds things together.

A ripsaw doesn't negate  a sander or a clamp. A sander doesn't invalidate a ripsaw. A clamp doesn't contradict  a ripsaw. And neither does a sander or a clamp "agree"  with each other.

They're all just tools. You use them if they work for the job at hand. And if they break you get new ones.

You give a monster a lot of space (as Werner Erhard may have said) but you give a friend intimacy. You speak so you're known as your word but you stay silent so you're not known as a gossip. You're gentle with children who come to you but you're ruthless and unswerving with adults who assume your integrity is up for grabs.

There isn't just one option  when you're inventing yourself as your word. There isn't one right way  to do it. When it comes to inventing yourself as your word, it's not useful  to consider what the right  way to do it is. Rather, what's useful to consider is a way to invent yourself as your word which works. Try on ie test drive  the Zen approach. Look to the pragmatic  rather than simply to the correct. One of the first things you notice when you intently observe the pragmatic is what works in one situation may not work in all situations. Even natural life sustaining actions  aren't always consistent. It's alright, for example, to open your lungs and take a deep breath of air. Just don't try that underwater without scuba. It's alright, for example, to put your hand on a stove. Just don't try that when it's hot.

It's a natural tendency to grab on to what we've figured out  works and then to make a recipe  ie a strategy  out of it. But the trouble with the itemized list of instructions which comprise recipes and strategies is they only work when they do.

When you're looking into the toolbox selecting a tool, it's not smart  to select a tool just because you selected it last time  ie just because it was useful last time, just because it worked last time. It may have worked then with that  job. But it may not work again now with this  job. It especially  won't work now if this  job isn't the same as that  job. A screwdriver won't sand a floorboard. A hammer won't sharpen a knife. Understanding is a useful tool in police detective work. When it comes to transformation, understanding is the booby prize.

Rather than select the tool based on what worked with that  job, you select the tool for this  job based on what's wanted and needed now. Notice the tendency to make the tool which worked last time significant.

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