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


When Barriers Fall:

A Course In Relationships

Browns Valley, California, USA

June 4, 2015



"Always be open to being related to everyone you have been related to."  ... 
This essay, When Barriers Fall: A Course In Relationships, is the companion piece to Open To Everyone.

It is also the fourth in a quadrilogy on Barriers: It is also the prequel to Laurence Platt 65th Birthday.




I'm having coffee with an old friend of mine. As we sit and talk easily, we wonder when we had coffee last. It could have been a week ago or even a month ago (at least, that's the way it feels). Then we figure out it was ten years ago.

It's great to be with her again. Ten years ago our relationship fractured after twenty years of a close, enduring friendship. I don't know why it fractured. While I have my suspicions as to what caused it, there's no particular incident which comes to mind. One moment we were friends. Then next moment we weren't friends any more. Was it something I did? Was it something I said?  Was it she who said something? Was it someone else  who said something? I don't recall, and I can't remember. I can only speculate. The bottom line, however, is a once great relationship fractured ... and then ten years went by without her in my life.

I thought about her a lot during that time. But I didn't attempt to contact her. It was, I suppose, my way of honoring her, and the high esteem with which I regard who she is: to not attempt to override her wish to end contact. What I did do was look towards her house whenever I drove by, hoping to see her - but I never did. I saw photographs of her from time to time on the internet, and I noticed she was aging gracefully, and that made me feel good. I didn't enjoy not being in touch with her. Yet neither did I do anything to remake contact with her.

Then one day I was visiting another friend in a different part of town, nowhere near where she lives. I was walking along a sidewalk, having just stopped in at a restaurant for some ice cold lemonade which I was sipping as I walked (the temperature was in the eighties) when I noticed a group of people walking towards me. Interestingly enough, one of them looked a lot like her. But I thought nothing more of it. Then they got closer ... and I realized it was  her.

I was instantly nervous (don't ask me why - that's the reaction I had). In a mild panic, I almost crossed over to the other side of the street to avoid her (to hide  from her). But I didn't ... and then even if I'd wanted to, it was too late: she was right in front of me. I had no escape. So I said (smiling yet flustered) "It's so good to see you", to which she replied "You too.". And then  she opened her arms and hugged me unreservedly, and I thought "This isn't happening, this can't  be happening ...".

I'll admit I had the thought "She's only being great with me because the rest of her group is watching.". So when I got home later that evening, I e-mailed her, saying "Great seeing you this afternoon. If you'd like to meet and talk, I would too. It's OK if you don't want to.". You can tell I was covering all bases: wanting to see her again, yet wary of intruding into her space, and certainly fearful of being rejected again ... and yet  ... I was also standing in the possibility of the barriers between us falling. I just got off it*  (for myself at least) about her not contacting me. She e-mailed me back saying she would like to meet ... and here we are, having coffee and talking and catching up and it's fabulous:  together again for the first time in ten years, and it's easy and it's alive and it's lovely - as if the fracture never happened.

So how is this possible? How does this happen? How does a broken relationship in which there's no possibility (zero, zilch, nada)  of it ever working again, flip over and become viable and thrive again in a single moment, seemingly without any effort at all?

By way of explanation, here's my complete course in relationships. What I have to say about this doesn't take very long: when barriers fall, miracles happen in relationships. "A-Ha!"  you say, "... but Laurence, if you wait for barriers to fall, you could wait forever.". This is true. So if you don't want to wait forever for barriers to fall, then get off it about the person. When you get off it about people, barriers in relationships fall by themselves, and miracles happen.

OK done. That's my entire course in relationships, my whole thesis presented right there in all of five sentences. To graduate from this course, you have to get off it.


* To "get off it" about someone includes giving up all fixed opinions about them (no matter how attached you are to your opinions about them), giving up being right about them, and allowing them the generosity and grace of a fresh, unprejudiced start in your eyes.


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