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

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Victory Like A Choice

Cliff House Inn on the Ocean, Mussel Shoals, California, USA

June 17, 2013

"Choice is to select freely and after consideration."  ... 
This essay, Victory Like A Choice, is the companion piece to Victory Over The Past.

It is also the sixth in an ongoing collection with embedded Music Videos:

This is a conversation about victory. But it's not about just any  victory. This conversation is about a certain kind  of victory. Perhaps it's not the kind of victory we ordinarily think of as victory. And the definition of victory we find in the dictionary may or may not cover or include the kind of victory I envision here. The kind of victory I envision here is victory like a choice. Before I flesh out victory like a choice, I'd like to first look at what it is to win, and then look at what it is to decide. Winning, you may say, at least has a similar connotation to victory ie it's in the same ballpark. But what has deciding, you may ask, got to do with victory? The answer may not be what you're expecting.

Eschewing for now the possibility of win  / win  (I'll revisit this possibility later in this conversation), the usual sense of what it is for me to win implies someone has to lose. All sports are set up this way. Games are set up this way. "Win" in this sense is simply one half of the inseparable dichotomy "win / lose". But when I propose victory like a choice, it's not dichotomous. There's no "or". There's no "victory ... or  ... something" - like "win or lose".

Next, consider the difference between what it is to decide and what it is to choose. "Chocolate, or vanilla?". Say you choose vanilla. The difference between deciding and choosing comes out in your answer to the question "Why  do you choose vanilla?". Typical answers are "I choose vanilla because I don't like chocolate", "I choose vanilla because it's my favorite flavor", "I choose vanilla because it's less expensive.". All such answers are decisions  not choices. To decide is (quite literally) to kill off the alternative(s). All such answers demonstrate the killing off of chocolate. It's interesting to note the word "decide" has the same root suffix -cide  (to kill off) as fratricide, genocide, homicide, infanticide, insecticide, matricide, pesticide, patricide, and suicide.

Choosing, on the other hand, is like this: looking at all the reasons for choosing either chocolate or vanilla, setting all those reasons aside, then freely and after consideration, saying "I choose vanilla because I choose vanilla"" (or chocolate, as the case may be). This is true choice - not decision. In this way, you could say deciding is a function of our reasons and considerations, whereas choosing is a function of who we really are.

with Alexandra - And I Love Her (The Beatles)
Which brings me to victory - in particular, to victory like a choice. This isn't victory like the win half of the win / lose dichotomy. So I'm not talking about victory over  something or someone. Rather this is the state  of victory - if you will. It's victory like a possibility. Neither is this victory in which I choose victory because I like it better than defeat. Specifically, I choose victory, freely and after consideration, because I choose victory. In choosing victory, I choose living a life that works.

Here's why choosing victory is choosing living a life that works: Life itself already  works. Life itself is already  victorious. The victory of living a life that works is the inevitable outcome of looking for what's already so and choosing it. I choose my children because I choose my children. There's no other because. I choose my family because I choose my family. There's no other because. I choose Life the way it is  because I choose Life the way it is. There's no other because. In particular, I choose my life the way it is because I choose my life the way it is. There's no other because.

At some point prior to this possibility, this victory would have had to be considered a victory over the circumstances. That's good, noble - valiant in fact. Nothing wrong with it. Just remember, what I'm proposing is the state of victory - not victory over  anything. Victory over the circumstances is a bit like the "win" side of "win / lose". It's really not what I have in mind - at least not here.

No, this  victory is simply chosen. It's a chosen way of being. It's a chosen way of life. It's a chosen relationship with Life itself. And it's chosen freely and after consideration. I choose victory because I choose victory. There's no other because. There's no other reason. Nothing is killed off.

Choosing victory, which is to say choosing Life the way it is (and the way it isn't), is also choosing myself the way I am (and the way I'm not). It's a free selection made after the decision making process is over. It's more than that actually. It's entirely independent  of the decision making process. It doesn't require because. The space it makes available for relationships is magical. Here's what's arguably the  essential component of relationships working: choosing them the way they are (and the way they aren't), and choosing to be in them the way I am (and they way I'm not), and choosing to be with those I'm in relationship with, the way they are (and the way they're aren't).

This is victory like a choice. Now if indeed you notice win / win goeswith  victory like a choice (as Alan Watts may have said), then I say victory like a choice is prior to  win / win. It's the context  for win / win. It sets the stage  for win / win. It creates the space  in which win / win can show up in the first place.

Background soundtrack: Sample The Beatles: And I Love Her - wait for 156K download

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