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

Wound Up Worrier

Napa Valley, California, USA

January 19, 2015

This essay, Wound Up Worrier, is the companion piece to I am indebted to Paul Douglas who inspired this conversation.

I've been talking with people. I've been asking offhandedly "What do you worry about?". That's not the same question as "What are you worried about?". The former is really a step up:  there's at least some  of you present in "What do you worry about?" whereas there's hardly any of you present in "What are you worried about?".

I say to them "I don't just mean things like 'I worry my team won't win the big game on Friday' or 'I worry the accident on the bridge will make me late for work and the parking lot will be full.'. That's chickenshit  worrying. I mean what do you really  worry about. What do you worry about so much you can't sleep at night? What do you worry about so much that it winds your stomach up in a knot and makes you feel sick? What do you worry about that's so scary you're afraid to tell anyone?".

What I found in this unexpectedly revealing exercise is many of the things we each  worry about are same things we all  worry about. Furthermore, it seems there are consistently things we each worry about for ourselves individually, and then there are also those things we each worry about for all of us, for everyone, for the planet.

Here's what's interesting: you would think the more people you talk with, the more diversified the worryings you'd hear about. More people equals more and different worryings, right? You would think so. But apparently that's not the case. There aren't as many different worryings as I thought there would be. It's quite a small set actually, a small set which has one thing in common: when we worry, for ourselves and for all of us, we're all driven by the same compelling question. That question comes in so many different and varying shapes, sizes, forms, and expressions. But I'll bet you good money that in each case, each one of those expressions comes down to the same thing: with regard to our worrying for ourselves, it's "Will  ... I  ... survive?";  with regard to our worrying for all of us, it's "Will ... we  ... survive?".

"Will I be healthy?", "Will I have enough money?", "Will I have a place to stay?", "Will I have someone who loves me?", "When will I die?", "Will I suffer?" are some of the variants of "Will I survive?". On the other hand, "Will my family be OK?", "Will my children thrive?", "Will my country be safe?", "Will the world work for everyone, or will it implode?" are some of the variants of "Will we survive?". Almost anything and everything we worry about is a variant of "Will I survive?" / "Will we survive?".
Werner, in response to a question I asked him, shared something with me about being sad, which altered my life (one of the many, many things he's shared with me which altered my life). What he shared with me is (I'm recreating how what he said occurred for me - I'm not quoting him): being sad is supposed to cure sadness ... except it never does. Man! That's remarkable. Did you get it? In a similar theme I'd like to suggest worrying is supposed to cure being worried ... except it never does.

This conversation really isn't about what to do  about the things you worry about. You'll either do something about them or you won't. It's taking action which has the power. Worrying itself has no power. You may as well hire someone to do your worrying for you. In terms of solving the problem, it will have about the same effect.

Rather, what this conversation is about is distinguishing the "Will I survive?" / "Will we survive?" mechanism which drives all worrying. That's what survival does. The thing about survival is it's on full automatic. And the value in distinguishing survival is on full automatic, is it creates space, some room  ie it opens the drapes letting in light so survival can just be. When you let survival just be, it  lets you  just be. Then there's the possibility of you  being senior to it  instead of the other way around.

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