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 The Talk

Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, Napa, California, USA

November 29, 2017

"If there was or is any discrepancy between his life and what he speaks (which is to say if there was or is any occasion when he wasn't or isn't walking the talk), he admits it freely with brutal, bone-numbing  honesty. His authenticity in this regard is beyond brave and courageous: it's deeply moving (bone-numbing honesty by the way, is critical to being authentic: the access to being authentic is to be unflinchingly  honest about your inauthenticities)."
... Laurence Platt sharing his experience of    in American Genius 
"Enlightenment is giving up the notion that you are unenlightened."
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God."
... John the apostle
This essay, Walking The Talk, is the sequel to American Genius.

The source idea which I'll flesh out in this essay, occurred for me as I was writing American Genius (Conversations For Transformation internet series of essays #1,304) sharing my experience of being with Werner and listening him as he mesmerized a large rapt group of academics, faculty and university staff, and family and friends and me, in a conversation on compassion in the evening of Thursday November 16, 2017 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, USA. The colloquial expression "walking the walk"  came up as I was looking for a way to articulate how he be's. But as I looked closer, I realized it wasn't "walking the walk"  I wanted to say at all. It was way more than that: it was "walking the talk".

That led me to wonder: if asked, how would I differentiate between "walking the walk" and "walking the talk"? And that  in turn led me to wonder: what about "talking  the talk" and "talking the walk"?  Well? What about  them? Now I don't even know if the latter two actually show up in colloquial conversation much. However, within the pair of "walking" and "talking", there's a maximum total of four ways in which they can be combined (it's binary). So I decided to see if I, as an exercise, could distinguish all four of them - or at least come up with something to say which is well within each of their ballparks, is useful, and which at least sounds credible and semi-intelligent.

My intention here therefore, is to start then provoke a conversation about what walking the talk (not to mention the other three binary combinations) might be and might look like, which is open for input, correction, criticism, coaching, sharing, illumination, and contribution, indeed to anything that's useful which forwards the action - or, in this case, which forwards the distinction(s).

Here's what I've come up with - at least here's what I've come up up with so far:



Before language becomes the vehicle for transformation, that is to say long before language is even recognized  as the vehicle for transformation, and even longer before transformation itself is considered to be a possibility, there's talking. There's talking about. There's commenting. There's reporting. There's opining. There's gossiping. There's small-talk and chit-chat. There's locker room banter. There's armchair psychologizing and there's Monday morning quarterbacking. There's gabbing, blabbing, and yakking. Before transformation enters front and center stage  like a possibility, before language becomes the vehicle for transformation, talking is what people do. There's no inkling (yet) that talking (which is to say languaging)  is who people are.

Indeed, that's the razor thin line between "talking" and "speaking" for me: when languaging is merely what we do, I distinguish that as "talking"; when languaging is who we really are, I distinguish that  as "speaking". While that differentation may not be 1,000% watertight, in this  conversation it's good enough for jazz.

Prior to authentic speaking emerging like a possibility, all verbal expression and communication is simply talking the talk.


At some point, I become aware of the (as yet remote) possibility of transformation. I talk about it. I talk about what it might be like. I'm not living it. Yet it's almost  present. It's tangible. I can taste  it and, if the truth be told, I yearn  for it (which is to say I yearn for whatever I consider it to be). But I'm in a kind of self-made trap, a bind: by talking about  transformation, I effectively preclude myself from experiencing  transformation ie from living it.

What I don't (yet) know is there's nothing to figure out. I don't (yet) know I'm already  transformed. I live and I act in the hope  of becoming transformed someday  ie I'm enrolled, but it's my unwillingness to give up my own self-imposed conviction that I'm not yet  transformed, that gets in my way. That's how, when I talk about  transformation, I inadvertently stick  myself in a realm which is inhospitable to the very onset of transformation itself. It's maddening!

So talking the walk  is being in a conversation about  transformation, prior to the onset of living transformation itself.


"Walking the walk" in colloquial use, designates a high, authentic  state to be living in. In it, I'm clear about being responsible for (and I am  responsible for), about being the owner of, indeed about being the creator  of, my own life. What's not yet in place (and there's nothing wrong with that it's not yet in place) is language as the arbiter  of who I am, of what I got, indeed of what's to come (when I say it's "not yet in place", I imply it's not yet empowered).

When I'm walking the walk and I throw my hat over the wall, it's my momentum which I put in front of me ... so I have to get myself over the wall if I want to retrieve my hat. It's all in the name of generating the movement for living my life - indeed, that's the way I generate the action  in my life. I'm living authentically. But language as the arbiter ie as the source  of my present and of my future, hasn't yet entered the picture. I'm not yet even aware of the possibility  of deploying language in this way. And even if it begins dawning on me that I could  deploy language in this way, I'm certainly not yet facile  with maneuvering and operating the levers, dials, and pedals and minutiae of language itself in this way - at least, not yet.

Walking the walk  is authentically living and acting, grounded in who I really am (as distinct from who I think I am, as distinct from who I'd like to be, even as distinct from who I wound up being). While full transformation is now alive like a possibility for the future, I'm not yet living completely transformed in the present. I've yet to discover and realize the possibility of language being the arbiter of everything I got, indeed of everything to come, indeed of everything there is.


As a base, I'm walking the walk. But now walking the walk is also  the platform for speaking my life, for living what I speak in the present, for living from a created future which now exists as a possibility because I speak it as a possibility.

When I'm walking the talk and I throw my hat over the wall, now it's my word  which I put in front of me. Now I live my life out of manifesting what I've spoken ("In the beginning was the word ..."). Rather than merely generating the action in my life this way as I did when walking the walk, now when I'm walking the talk  I'm also generating my life itself.

Walking the talk  is living transformed - that is to say walking the talk is authentically being in action as a function of my spoken and given word.


When I'm fully walking the talk (that is to say when I'm authentically living life transformed), any residual line between my living and my speaking ie any last vestige of a difference between my living and my speaking, begins blurring and merging until there's no difference between them at all. I speak my future, then I live from that future. I speak my present, then I live in that present. When I live both my future and my present just as I've spoken them, all three of my living, my speaking, and who I really am, are congruent with one another.

To complete this overview, here's an important point about sequencing  which calls out to be made: as it turns out, there's no prerequisite  required for walking the talk. Although it sometimes looks likes there's a predictable sequence leading up to it, none of "talking the talk", "talking the walk", or "walking the walk" are even necessary or needed before I walk the talk. They may be useful. They may also be found in that order along the path  to transformation (which only means they may synchronously appear before "walking the talk" shows up in my life ... or they may not). I'm either walking the talk ... or I'm not. And if I am, then any residual investment I may have in "talking the talk", "talking the walk", or in "walking the walk" actually slows the momentum of living my life transformed.

In other words, "walking the talk" isn't dependent on what came before it, regardless of how useful what came before it, may have been. Rather, walking the talk is a living in the moment / moment to moment / ongoing breakthrough:  it's the discontiguous living freely into a Self-generated (ie into a spoken) new future in the present.

And that's  how Werner be's ie that's what I witnessed in the evening of Thursday November 16, 2017 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, USA. This essay is only secondarily  about how Werner be's ie it's only secondarily about him walking the talk. Primarily it has started a conversation about how, out of the way Werner be's, walking the talk has become a living, thrilling real  possibility for you and for me and for each and every member of our vast human family in all communities in all countries in all corners of our precious Planet Earth.

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© Laurence Platt - 2017 Permission