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


Whatever Works

San Francisco, California, USA

May 17, 2017



This essay, Whatever Works, is the first in the fifth trilogy Breakfast With The Master:
  1. Whatever Works
  2. Yesterday's Transformation
  3. Billions And Billions Of Stars
in that order.
The first trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Conversation With A Laser
  2. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  3. Secret Agent
in that order.
The second trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Health
  2. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Finances
  3. Breakfast With The Master II: Future Open
in that order.
The third trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Raw Power
  2. It Works Better As A Possibility
  3. Magic At Heart
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Breakfast With The Master is:
  1. Breakfast With The Master IV: Parental Care
  2. Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It
  3. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
in that order.


I arrive early - with hours  to spare, having gotten out of bed waaay  before dawn in order to arrive in the City by the Bay  before the morning commute snarl begins. Having the whole place to myself, I choose the same table we sat at last time: exactly a year and four days ago. I order the first of many cups of coffee, open my Letts of London  diary, my IBM / Lenovo L440  laptop computer, and my notebook which I turn to a blank page, across which I lay my Mont Blanc Meisterstück  pen. Everything is in place. Now ready, I wait.

This is the time to contemplate what I'm really  here for. I could count on my fingers and toes the number of times in my life I've done this sort of thing - and still have a digit or three left to spare. What I'm here for is to be in the presence of, and engage with someone in a conversation. But it's not just idle conversation, and it's not just any  someone. It's a very particular domain  of conversation: it's the Conversation For Transformation. And it's with a person who's been speaking it almost as long as it's been in existence on the planet - so much so that I could best describe him as the very bedrock on which the foundations of this conversation are laid.

I have no sense of time as I wait. The hours just fly by. Then ... he's in front of me. I stand up, and we embrace. Whoa! This man is solid. I mean hugging him is like hugging a Redwood tree trunk. When he smiles "Hello!", he smiles with his very being  (his mouth is only an accoutrement  to that smile). He orders breakfast. Then the waitress turns to me. It's my turn to order. I say "Whatever he's  having? I want it too.". I mean it both figuratively and literally. The innuendo isn't lost on him.

He knows who I am. I mean he really  knows who I am. So no polite, insipid icebreakers are necessary. We get into it right away. He knows what I do, which is to say he knows what I write. He knows I'm read widely. And he asks me, like a laser beam focusing on one very specific dendrite in my brain (I can squirm, but there's no place to hide) whether I share what I share because it feels good to share it  (there's certainly a fair amount of that), or whether I share what I share because I intend to contribute (and there's certainly also a fair amount of that too). I tell him there's both. But he presses, challenging: you can tell (he says to me) if it feels good - but how can you tell if it contributes  ie how do you know if what you do makes a difference?  The question's simple profundity stops me. I don't need to play the smart Aleck  with this guy. I don't need to make stuff up to impress him. So I sit and look. And after a while, what comes out of my mouth is "I  ... don't  ... know".

What he says next is simple, straightforward, direct, and to the point. It's a natural sequitur  ie it's the logical continuation in this conversation with a laser. And when he says it, I realize I've been trying to figure out something I assumed was complicated, rather than simply looking into the space directly in front of me, and noticing what's already there. This is what he says: he says the way to find out if something you do makes a difference? is to ask. On a 1 to 10 scale of forehead-slapping "Duh!", it rates a 14  (I'm now pondering my own question: why didn't I  think of that?). He wraps it up with: without asking people ie without having them say if what you do makes a difference in their lives, you won't know ie you're left with making [unreliable, unfounded] assumptions.

As we speak ie as our conversation spontaneously evolves, I can tell he draws his inspiration from a variety of sources - unlike many others like him who play at his level, yet who prefer to stay loyal to (is that a euphemism for "are attached to"?)  only one. I ask him about it, drawing from Matthew the apostle: "Can a man serve more than one master?". He absorbs my question, and is quiet. Then he smiles. "It's whatever works" he says. "What's available is the realm of infinite  possibilities.".



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© Laurence Platt - 2017 Permission