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

Worry Or Not, It Turns Out Anyway II

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 25, 2016

"It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel, or what you think, and certainly it has no interest in what you want and don't want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act."
"I never worry. God is in his heaven and everything is right with the world - even though it doesn't always look like it."
 ... Dorothy, 99, improving on Robert Browning

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."
 ... Jesus Christ quoted by both Matthew and Mark the apostles

"Do or do not: there is no try!"
... Yoda, Grand Master of the Jedi Order in Star Wars

"Worry or not, it turns out anyway."
 ... Laurence Platt
This essay, Worry Or Not, It turns Out Anyway II, is the sequel to Worry Or Not, It Turns Out Anyway.

"I like you" she said to me one day as we emerged from the art gallery whose staggeringly brilliant works we'd been perusing in downtown Napa where I live in California's wine country. "Your life works" she said, "and you don't worry about anything, and you don't care about anything.". "You got two out of three right" I said "but as far as your 'you don't care'  goes, I think you're blurring two distinctions which are fundamentally different. I don't worry. You're right. But I do  care. And there's a world of difference between the two.".

"So you don't worry because your life works?" she asked. "No, it's not that" I said, "and if you don't mind me saying so, not worrying because  your life works, is a recipe for disaster. No, you don't worry not because your life works. The 'because' is a superstition. If anything, you don't worry because you don't worry. The one's got nothing to do with the other.". "When did you stop worrying?" she asked, "Actually what I really want to know is how  did you stop worrying?".

Anything is limited when seen from a narrow point of view. Three people are looking through holes in a fence. The first person, looking through the smallest hole, says "There's an eye on the other side of this fence.". The second person, looking through a bigger hole, says "No, it's two  eyes and  a mouth.". The third person, looking through the biggest hole, says "You're both wrong: it's an elephant.". Like that, the answer to her question (at least from a narrow albeit profound point of view) is you stop worrying by stopping worrying  ie you stop worrying by not worrying any more. Worrying belongs in the class of behaviors I call "behaviors to drop"  along with smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, to name but two. When I saw there was no value in it for me, I dropped it.

"Yeah ... but how  did you drop it?" she persisted. "I know it may sound trite" I said "given that was the narrow point of view through the smallest hole in the fence, but one morning I woke up into a beautiful, sun-streamed day. I was enjoying just lying there basking in the sunlight. And then I had a thought about my taxes which were due (it was that time of year), and instantly I was consumed with worry, almost as if by a chain-reaction ie by a rapidly escalating chain-reaction. I was worried about having to divert money from other essentials in order to pay my taxes. And I had all the doubts and all the fear and all the trepidation going on, not to mention a tightening knot in the middle of my solar plexus. I hated  it. My whole day, which started off so beautifully, was heading for big trouble. Then suddenly I heard myself saying 'Laurence, just pay your god-damned taxes, dude. Worrying doesn't help anything.'. So I stopped worrying - just like that. That's when I found out I have the power to stop worrying, as well as the way to stop worrying: the way to stop worrying is by stopping worrying.".

"OK" she said, "but what if you can't pay your taxes?". I smiled. It was her almost inevitable token "What if  ...?"  (she'd already used up her "Yeah  ... but  ...", so of the three, she still had her "How about  ...?"  left). That's when I said "Well, if that's really the case, what good will worrying about it do you?  What difference will it make?". She pursed her lips, then opened her mouth to say something ... and then shut it again ... then opened it ... then shut it. A long minute or three went by.

There are bigger holes through which you can look through the fence. Through the biggest hole, you'll see that if you don't (or can't) pay your taxes, there's an action you'll have to take. You'll take this action (whatever it is) or not, yes? Yet whether you take action or not, worrying about it either way won't make any difference. So, like smoking and drinking, you may as well drop it - just like that. The world doesn't move for you when you worry. It only moves for you when you act.

She listened intently all the time I was speaking, without interrupting. After I finished, I waited to see if she would respond. She did, holding up her left index finger in front of her face (not pointing at me - rather gesturing she'd just gotten something), and said "I always knew worrying never did me any good. It's somehow meant  to make a difference, and yet it never does, does it? In spite of that, I continue doing it. I don't know why. It's truly addictive. As you say, it's like smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. But I already knew all that. What I didn't  get until now is the world doesn't move for me when I worry. It only moves for me when I act.".

"Ain't it the truth?" I said, "And now do you get the difference between not worrying, and not caring?". "I do now, clearly" she replied, "Thank you!". "You're welcome" I said, "but don't thank me. Thank Werner.".

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