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

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Valley Of The Moon, Sonoma County, California, USA

May 25, 2010

This essay, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, is the companion piece to Breakfast With The Master IV: Taking The Guilt Out Of It.

It was written at the same time as Time On My Hands.

Werner Erhard says "Creation is a matter of distinction.". In other words, in order to create you have to distinguish something.

I assert it's apparent to everyone what creating is. Even if we don't agree on the minutiae ie on the specifics  of what creating implies, it's one of a handful of words we're all congruent with; that is to say the sense  of what creating implies is universally recognized without the need of a dictionary. Some of the connotations of creating are artistic. Some are religious. But if you can step outside of both of these concepts of creating, fraught as they are with their own sets of blinding beliefs and (mis)interpretations, ask yourself this: what access do we human beings have to really create? Not as a concept. Not as an interpretation. Nor as a belief. Neither in the religious  sense. Not even in the artistic  sense. Let all that go. What access do we human beings have to really create? I mean really.

Here's the Creating 101  basic fundamental abstract idea of what creating is: creating is bringing forth something out of nothing, yes? If you say you're creating but you're not bringing forth something out of nothing, you're not creating. You may be changing  something. You may be adding  something to something. You may be making something more, better, and different. But you're not creating in the full promise of the word unless you're bringing forth something out of nothing, yes?

In this regard distinction  is the magic wand ie the potent tool of you the creator.


I use the word creator  knowing it may unleash distracting religious overtones. But here the only god in the universe I'm referring to is you.


When you the creator distinguishes something in your universe, in other words when you bring forth something which wasn't presenced before ie which wasn't spoken  before, that's true creation. And if you look at what this implies, creation as distinction  also fits the already listening of art and religion without confining  creating to either the artistic or to the religious contexts. In fact notedly in the religious context it's said "In the Beginning was the Word" when something was brought forth which wasn't presenced before ie which wasn't spoken  before.

Now consider the possibility that your life looks like what it looks like ie that the way it's turned out for you, isn't random or happenstance  or the luck of the draw. Rather, consider the possibility that the way it's turned out for you, consciously realized or not, understood or not, is a function of what you've distinguished. Consider the possibility that this - your life, exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn't - is the way it is because this is what you've distinguished so far.

In a sense, we're creation machines  who don't realize we're creation machines. But we create anyway. All this stuff around you, the way Life looks like for you, the way it's turned out for you so far: you created all of it even unknowingly  by distinguishing. Tell the truth about it. Stop lying about it.

It doesn't matter  that you didn't distinguish distinction  until many, many years after you wished you had  distinguished distinction. One of the first comments out of the mouth of anyone who discovers transformation, one of the first observations uttered by anyone who discovers distinguishing distinction  is "If only I'd discovered this years ago  ...".

That's part one  of the rue. Part two of the rue is this: whether you realized it at the time or not, your life got to look like what it looks like because what you've created is what you've distinguished, and ignorance of the way it works, which is to say ignorance of the law  is no excuse. So the entire rue is best expressed as "If only  I'd become aware of this sooner ... then I would have  ... and I could have  ... and I should have  ...".

"... woulda  ... coulda  ... shoulda  ...".

Here's how this resolves. Here's where there's no rue and no regret. Here's where there's closure, completion, peace, and freedom to be and to move on:

You didn't distinguish distinction one nanosecond sooner than you distinguished distinction. You distinguished distinction no sooner  than you distinguished distinction. You only distinguished distinction at the exact moment you distinguished distinction. From then on, which is to say from now  on, you have freedom and choice in the matter of what you distinguish as your life. The "... woulda  ... coulda  ... shoulda  ..." of the past is now irrelevant. That's what you did then  - and now  there's all this. The history of time (as Stephen Hawking may have said) isn't arbitrarily divided into the BC  era and the AD  era after all. Today your life may be considered to be divided (that is to say if you must divide your life at all) into the BDD  ie Before Distinguishing Distinction era and the ADD  ie After Distinguishing Distinction era.

"... woulda  ... coulda  ... shoulda  ..." is of the BDD era of your life, the era when you created your life to be the way it looks without realizing  you were creating your life to be the way it looks by distinguishing. In the ADD era of your life, your life still looks the way it looks because you've created it to be the way it looks by distinguishing - except in the ADD era of your life, you know  it looks the way it looks because this is what you've distinguished ... AND  ... you take responsibility for creating it this way, for the way it looks, for the way it is, for what you've distinguished.

From now on in the ADD era you've empowered yourself to create (which is to say to distinguish)  a future worth living into. This is the antithesis of continuing in the BDD era to allow the probable almost certain  future to come on and roll over you without you having any say in the matter of how your life turns out.

"... woulda  ... coulda  ... shoulda  ..." is like nicotine: at some point I had no more use for it, so I dropped it.

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