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 The Cows Came Home

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

June 8, 2006



This essay, When The Cows Came Home, is the companion piece to In The Face Of Commitment.

It is also the second in the septology Menagerie: It was written at the same time as


Outside my window is a cow pasture. It's a huge tract of land, hundreds of acres, with a river and rolling hills, green and lush in winter, brown and dry in summer. There's another pasture outside my front door with horses - no cows. The difference between horses and cows is horses will come if you have carrots. After you've given them carrots, they'll leave. Cows, on the other hand, will come just to visit. They don't require an offering. Cows will come to visit and stay. And if you moo at cows, they'll moo back at you.

Every evening like clockwork it seemed, the entire herd of cows crossed that expanse of pasture, coming over to my place to visit.

I've been through some personal challenges recently - gut wrenching changes, the kinds of changes which first make you afraid you'll die, and then make you even more afraid you won't. During those times, when the cows came to visit I experienced a kind of peace, an otherworldly  sense of tranquility, a feeling of being taken care of  which, when I inquired into it, made me realize why cows are considered to be sacred  in India.

Then one day in the middle of winter, the cows stopped coming. Perhaps they went away. Perhaps it got too cold. Perhaps the rancher provided feed for them in their stalls so they didn't have to venture out into the pasture to graze. Who knows why they stopped coming. But stopped coming they did. And sometimes I felt chillingly alone without them there in the evenings.

As the winter wore on, I resolved my personal issues. I took on that no one is responsible for the quality of my own experience except me. I saw I could have it be any way I like. I noticed I could come up with many interpretations  of my personal circumstances, and that none of them was the right  interpretation, none of them was the correct  interpretation. I could choose any interpretation I liked, and that could be the one I would hold as the  truth ... at least until I came up with another  interpretation to try on.

Finally, months later, I had a breakthrough. I realized my life is my life no matter how it turned out. My life wasn't anything that turned out different than the way this  turned out. My life wasn't the life which I would get to once all this stuff  was handled or ended. I got that this is my life, and I loved it. Suddenly all the predicaments became opportunities, all the challenges became play, all the difficulties became occasions to excel, all the hopelessness became moments out of time to invent new possibilities.

If I didn't weigh one hundred and eighty pounds, I would have walked at least six inches above the ground from then on. Out of nothing, I was living powerfully, living a life I love. And that's how it was one night when I arrived home late, idly humming a tune I'd been listening to on the radio, and walked through the gate to my cottage.

I gasped out loud when I saw them. The cows had come home.

By any stretch of the imagination it was a remarkable, heart stoppingly beautiful sight. The warm summer night was bathed by the light of a huge bright golden full moon. The entire herd had trekked across two hundred acres of pasture to congregate right at the door  of my Cowboy Cottage. Fifty or so cows, bulls, and calves were just sitting there keeping guard  over my place, over my space.

It was perfect. Nothing could have been more perfect in fact. No longer concerned about looking good, I spoke  to the cows. I said: "I'm so glad  to see you again. Thank You for coming back.". They all looked at me through big, dark eyes, intently staring at the human being who spoke to them.

Then an amazing thing happened. The snow white albino calf, the sweetest little dogie  that ever git along, looked me straight in the eye and moo-ed at me. So I moo-ed back at him.

At first there was silence. Then, almost imperceptibly, he moo-ed back. Then they all started mooing. One at a time, in time, out of time, but soon all of them were mooing at me and I was mooing back at them and they were mooing back at me and I was mooing at them.

I was totally exhilarated! I paused ... savoring the joy. Then in English - not in Moo - I said: "I got it, you guys, and I love you too. Really I love you.". They stopped mooing immediately and looked at me in velvet silence.

Later that night just before I went to sleep, I looked out at the pasture again. The entire herd was asleep just outside my window, still bathed by the light of the huge bright golden full moon.




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