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

Walking In My Neighborhood

Silverado Middle School, Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

May 16, 2020

"It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination." ... Henry David Thoreau

"If you are behind me crossing the stream, and you see me slip on a stone and fall into the water; then you know not to step on that stone." ... A Bueno

"In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs of ev'ry head he's had the pleasure to know. And all the people that come and go, stop and say hello." ... The Beatles, Penny Lane
This essay, Walking In My Neighborhood, is the companion piece to It is also the sequel to The Circumstances I've Got.

It is also the prequel to What I Make What Happens Mean.

Photography by Laurence Platt

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

3:28:07pm PDT Tuesday May 19, 2020
"Hiking trail under trees"
This neighborhood (ie my neighborhood) in which I live, is on the outskirts of a town where the city's jurisdiction abuts agricultural county land (that's why we call it "ag"  land here). It's a mix of housing (some affordable for workers, some not so affordable), two small grocery stores, one or two tiny nondescript office buildings, a coin laundromat, streets (and side streets of course), and then there are the vineyards amid Napa Valley's Coombsville appellation. It's an area I know so well. Yet it's only recently I realized I only know it so well if I'm in the driver's seat of my car.

To be sure, I am very familiar with it as I drive in and out of it, to and from my home. Yet it's only recently I've begun to realize, given it's fifteen years I've lived here, how little exploring I've done on foot at ground level, gazing around, taking it in, experiencing the native spirit* directly.

The stay-home has changed all that. It's decisively demanded opportunities to explore the area, to walk about and get to know its cul-de-sacs and shortcuts, to look into windows, homes and gardens, and to realize real people with real lives and real concerns live here. Doing so makes me realize how much of a stranger ie how much of a fly-by-night  I've become, especially in my own neighborhood, and consequently how elusively it has reciprocated. In the stay-home, much of my natural access to movement has become restricted. By that I mean even the simplest movements required to get out and about doing basic errands in the village in normal times, have become restricted. At first I complained. And then I heard the stay-home urging "Get out. Hike. Explore.".

So I added additional mandatory physical activities to my daily regimen including yoga, walking, running, and hiking, all while my car stayed parked under the carport gathering dust. It's not just the essential exercises that are bountiful. It's that getting out not by car, brings me closer to the real land and the real people who live real lives right under my very real nose in this very real neighborhood, many of whom I've never met or even known about until now, whom I haven't even seen until now, the first time in fifteen years. "That's strange, that's very  strange" I muse as its impact slowly sinks in, "Why has this taken so long? Why does it take a stay-home?".

We're an odd species: unexamined, we're uncomfortable being ourselves. Authenticity doesn't come easy to us. Our cure? Leave! Everyone knows  this isn't it. At best, we're passing through on our way somewhere else. It's not called the travel "bug" for nothing: we're bitten. We love leaving. Any place, anywhere but here, any place but this, anywhere but where we are. "The world" means Brazil, Croatia, the Fiji islands, the Amazon jungle ... but never my neighborhood. This couldn't  be it. Really.

Inventing the possibility of "This is it!" right here, right now, exactly this way, not that way, my neighborhood, these people, is sublime, the access to transformation.

* From the Urban Dictionary:


native spirit

abstract noun
state of being where you are one with your surroundings


Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2020, 2021 Permission