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


Workability III

Coombsville Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

November 3, 2020

This essay, Workability III, is the eighth in an octology on Workability:

There's a popular, useful expression with which we describe something that has a certain pragmatic utility  (if you will). We say that the thing "works" - or alternatively we say that it "doesn't  work". For example, we say a flashlight works, a TV works, a laptop computer works, a public telephone works, a pen etc works ... or not. And on a superficial level when we say a thing works, we mean it has functionality  ie that it functions well, and in accordance with its intended purpose. But at the very fundamental level on the other hand, when we say something works, we mean it has integrity  ie that it's whole  and has nothing missing. You could say a bicycle works. But a bicycle with a flat tire and a buckled wheel for example, has no integrity. It can't function in accordance with its intended purpose. It doesn't work. It has no workability. You could even say an Eames chair  works if you feel comfortable, relaxed, and supported sitting in it. You could say an Eames chair has workability.

Even a schedule  can be said to have workability if it allows for critical meetings as well as down-time with family without sacrificing either, and if it blocks out time to be available in cases of emergencies, or to co-incide with others' unexpected availability. A concert and / or a movie could be said to have workability if the overall experience is enthralling, if the light and sound sequences fit, if the plot is challenging and intriguing without being overly complicated. If all of the above features are present, we may say "That movie really works! The wardrobe really works. The soundtrack really works.". Similarly we may say a collection of art in a gallery, works.

We could even say life  works, and in particular we could say that a  life works: your life, my life. When I earn more than I spend, when I'm taking care of and being responsible for my health, when I'm paying careful attention to detail and doing what's wanted and needed in a timely manner, my life works. Those examples are a few of what it takes to have life (and a life) work ie to have a life that has workability - remembering always that as an underlying bastion, a life without integrity (like a bicycle with a flat tire and a buckled wheel) doesn't have workability. It doesn't work. Indeed, without integrity, nothing  works.

So we can articulate features of things  which have workability, and we can articulate features of living life  which have workability. In the same sense, can we articulate specific characteristics human beings  have, which have workability? That is to say, can we articulate the ways (or at least some of the ways) a person be's  which work ie which can be said to have workability? Asked another way, what are some of the exercisable powers available to human beings, which have workability?

The truth is, they're legion. Yet merely listing them interests me less than distinguishing the base qualities, without which none of the above could be present. I'll begin with three. One, being who I really am. When I look at it, it's almost inconceivable to me that I could live a life that works if I'm not being who I really am. That would be like being an actor in a play, not knowing what part I'm playing, yes? Two, being authentic. For me, being authentic in the realm of being who I really am, is telling the truth about where I'm not  being authentic about being who I really am. And yes, being authentic has a certain tautology  in it (a tautology is something defined in terms of itself). Three, being in integrity. My cue for integrity comes from Werner: integrity is honoring my word as mySelf, and maintaining an empowering context.

With those three base qualities in place (and only  when they're in place), my life has workability when I really listen, when I accept my own mind in a way that makes peace possible, when I express love in the face of no agreement, when I'm decisive without dithering, when I'm happy in the sense of when I'm fully accepting what is (and what isn't). Those are some exercisable powers available to all human beings, that engender life working. They're also a few measures for a  life with workability.

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