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 Out Of My Overcoat

Carmel By The Sea, California, USA

June 26, 2008

This essay, Walking Out Of My Overcoat, is the companion piece to Don't Be Where The Blow Lands.

There's something about fighters you just gotta give them credit for: they really believe  what they believe. They've got that air of bravado about them, the swagger  which comes from thinking they've already figured out  the world.

To be sure, there's a certain sense of freedom which comes from figuring out  something. But when figuring out is simply the unconscious drive of survival, of fear, it's not much more than a reflex, a base instinct, little more than machinery  in fact. There's no creativity in figuring out fire burns and you should keep your body parts away from direct contact with it. There's no creativity in figuring out keep your hands off the hot stove. It simply goeswith  the automaticity (as Alan Watts may have said). There's no creativity in wanting to have more, in striving to be better, in aspiring to do things differently. It's automatic. It simply goeswith the territory of being human.

This is the context in which fighters, without inquiring into and without realizing the automaticity of the automaticity, have figured out what it's all about is winning  and losing. Given their premise, fighters (considering themselves smart)  have determined they aren't in it to lose. So for fighters, it's become more than just winning at any cost and avoiding losing. The paradigm fighters live in is "I must  win and you must  lose". Another way of saying this is "In order for me to win, you have to lose" - that, plus the fact fighters aren't aware  they're living inside a paradigm. For fighters, it's simply the way it is.

That's the world of fighters, the world of winning and losing, and in the world of fighters, transformation can't exist like a possibility.
Werner Erhard says "The way to handle a monster is to give it lots of space.". To me, this harkens to the one tenet which runs through all martial arts, and it's this: don't be where the blow lands. The battle is lost in the moment you stop to think  about responding to a fighter. Don't be  where the blow lands. It's a response based in being  not in thinking.

Someone I know coveted something I had. He was a fighter. He had it that because he  would fight for it, I would too. Clearly, the way he'd figured out the world suffered from archaic delusions of chivalry. He said things like "May the better man win!". He may just as well have uttered the wild west "Draw!"  or the swashbuckling "Have at thee!"  or even the Monty Python-esque "Come here and let me bite you!". But I'm not a suitor, I'm not a gunslinger, I'm not a pirate, and I'm not a knight who says "Ni!". I'm not a gladiator, and I'm not a fighter. It's already over  for me.

I looked at him and smiled, not a "You've got  to be kidding!" smile which would have been provocative. Rather, just a smile. Not a "yes" smile. Not a "no" smile. Rather, a "po"  smile (as Edward de Bono may have said), and I turned my back on him and walked away.

A long two seconds ticked by. Then I felt his hands come down hard on my shoulders, grabbing me by the epaulets of my oversized overcoat.

In the next second I was walking out of my overcoat, dropping my arms to my sides and slightly backward so they slipped cleanly out of the satin lined sleeves, leaving him holding nothing but the garment itself. I turned slowly to face him as he stood there looking sheepish, jaw half dropped in an expression of befuddlement, holding just an overcoat by the epaulets, the belt and hem dragging on the ground.

I looked at him straight in the eye, standing still - again the po  smile. "It's all yours now" I said to him, turned again, then walked away without looking back.

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