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

View From A Driftwood Bench

Point Reyes, California, USA

July 17, 2011

"The physical universe is my guru."  ...   answering the question "Many people have a guru. Who is your guru?" 
This essay, View From A Driftwood Bench, is the companion piece to

Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt - Point Reyes, California, USA - 1:56pm Sunday July 17, 2011
View From A Driftwood Bench

It's pleasantly perfectly warm under me, this huge slab of driftwood (once a tree trunk?), generously sharing with me its solid, flat, bland energy through the palms of my hands and the backs of my legs. It's a seat for all occasions, a bench for the beauty of this one endless moment. How it got here, only God knows. How it got to be this way, only God knows. But get here it clearly did, and get to be this way it did too - probably as randomly and as incongruously (when you come to think about it) as I got to be here, as I got to be this way.

It's ideally positioned behind a sand dune resplendent with beach grasses, shrubs, succulents, colorful wild flowers, and tiny bushes generically known in the Afrikaans  language as fynbos  (pronounced feign-boss  - translation: "fine bush") which punctuate every slow, steady breath I take with subtle aromas of heath, clay, marshland, and ozone. There's hardly any wind, so there's no impediment at all to the sound of easily surfable  waves in the not too far distance reaching into this enclave, rising, crescendo-ing, crashing, fading to silence ... again, and again, and again.

Something brushes against my fingers. I look down. It's a tiny lizard. Dappled brown with inlays of black diamonds on his back, he seems so completely unafraid. Then I realize he probably is  unafraid. He probably hasn't learned  to be afraid ... of people, yet, anyway. Out here I may be the first person with whom he's ever shared this driftwood bench. But it's more than simply he's unafraid of me. It's like he, not I, owns this place. It's like he's its custodian. It's like he's granting me his permission to be in his sanctuary. Thanking him, I turn my eyes back to the waves, enjoying a new incoming set until they're gone, their last churning foam disappearing, merging into the blue of the ocean. When I look down again, I notice he's gone too.

I'm filled - in every way imaginable - by this view. By what's in front of me and behind me. By what's underneath me. By what's above me. By what's to the left of me and to the right of me. Shattered are any and all limitations arbitrarily imposed on what's possible for beauty in the world. And this is, after all, merely the view of the physical universe. This is merely what's real  with nothing added and with nothing taken away. This doesn't even begin to take into account what human beings are endowed to create like a possibility. It doesn't even begin to take into account the gift of human creativity with regard to music, with regard to art, with regard to drama, with regard to poetry, with regard to design, indeed with regard to speaking our very lives into existence  day by day by day. This is merely a view of the way the physical universe is (and of the way it isn't).

For one brief moment I'm able to get myself completely out of its way and let it be. When I get myself out of its way, then and only then  can I let it be and really be with it. And when I really be with it, it awes me. With its complexity. With its sublimity. With its depth. With its simplicity. With its obviousness. With its presence. With its magnificence. With its in‑your‑face  demanding-to-be-noticed-ness.

There's it:  the physical universe, pristine and unwavering in its no-compromise  integrity - whole, complete, eternal. And then there's what we humans beings bring to it by way of our creativity like a possibility, like a contribution  to it, like making a difference to it, like the possibility of making a difference serving  it.

And as I'm reveling in seeing this two-fold  reality from this driftwood bench, suddenly something else makes its presence known to me. It surreptitiously comes into my consciousness like a lingering breathy note blown softly (at first) on a reed flute, rising steadily in volume and intensity, saying "Here I am! Here I am!". And when I see it, which is to say when I can get myself to see it, I'm touched by something so basic, by something so profound  it puts me into a space of ecstasy and moves me to tears at the same time.

It's the context  in which all this shows up. It's the context, the only  context in which all this can  show up. It's the space  of my experience. It's who I see I am. It's who we see we really are. It's Self  - just "Self" (in this context it's gratuitous to say "The  Self"). What's especially sublime about it is it's not even significant that it's Self: Self seeing Self is just another point of view.

I stand up and away from this driftwood bench, turning to face it, placing my palm flat on it one last time, thanking it for the view it provides by just being here, God knows how.

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