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

You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining

East Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

September 22, 2011

"You don't ask 'Why me?'  when it's raining." ...   speaking with Laurence Platt in You Don't Ask "Why Me?" When It's Raining II (Encounters With A Friend #30) 
This essay, You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining, is the companion piece to
  1. Nepenthe
  2. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
  3. On The Edge Of Serenity
  4. Not "This Too Shall Pass": "This Too Is It!"
in that order.

It is also the prequel to Shit Happens.

Conversations For Transformation receives its five hundred and fifty thousandth view with the publishing of You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining.

A friend of mine walked to her parked car to go to work one morning, excited and happy with the way the day was going. As she got closer, she noticed something didn't look right. The car seemed higher  off the ground than usual. Puzzled, she walked closer, then slowed, then stopped and stood still, her mouth dropping open. That's when she let out a slow "Oh ... my ... God!".

"Why me?"
All four wheels were missing. The additional height of the car was due to four cheap blue jacks holding the car off the ground, presumably while thieves ran off with the wheels, tires, lugnuts, and hubcaps.

Standing there at the scene of the crime, so to speak, she called me on her cell phone, and asked me to come over and look. Her upset was palpable in her voice - and so was her sense of helplessness and violation.

Less than three hours later she was again excited and happy, driving her car replete with four new wheels and tires, lugnuts, and hubcaps. Together we had created a miracle. Her circumstances had gone from horrible  to no problem  in less than three hours. But that's not what this essay is about.

This essay is about a new perspective which cleared up her upset. It's about a newly created space  inside of which her sense of helplessness and violation disappeared. It's about how trying on a new point of view  allows an entirely new context  to emerge. It's about letting go of being invested in, of being attached to  any one particular point of view, and trying on another. It's about that which has the power to move mountains.

She described how helpless she felt, how violated she felt on seeing her car like that, the car she had worked for and saved for and bought with a great sense of accomplishment. I suggested the theft was targeted, that the thieves had planned their actions carefully, that they were after the wheels of the same make and model car as hers. It was well planned for a time of night when everyone in the neighborhood was sleeping. No one heard or saw anything. No one called the police. It was over very quickly. It could have happened to anyone. She just happened to have the make and model car they were looking for.

She didn't get that. Embroiled as she was in her upset and her outrage, to her it was personal. To her, the thieves hadn't just targeted the make and model of the car she owned. To her, the thieves had targeted her personally. She asked out loud, in way that might have been asking me, or might have been asking fate, or might have been asking God, "Why me?  Why me?".

I suppose you could say it was a cry of woe. And at the same time, it occurred for me as extremely touching. It was so very, very human. I knew I could support her getting her situation resolved. Yet for just a moment, I was in no hurry to. The way she shared this very human reaction with me was so, so tender, I actually wanted to savor it, and not move on too fast to the next thing.

Her "Why me?  told me how personal it was for her. For her, the thieves didn't just target the make and model of a car. They targeted her. The universe hadn't rolled out just another random act of thievery. The universe had singled her out personally  to be a victim. Her question "Why me?  indicated she wanted to understand  why she was targeted. The whole thing moved me deeply.
Werner Erhard has said many things which, in a single moment out of time, completely alter my way of looking at things. I was sharing an incident which was getting the better of me, with him. I was taking what was happening personally, and I didn't like it. Werner said I sounded like someone who is so wrapped up in taking things personally, that I would even take it personally if I got rained on  ...

I've never forgotten it. It's a huge-hearted way of looking at things, which completely rearranges the context of being a victim. It completely rearranges the context of being personally targeted - which is to say of perceiving  you're being personally targeted.

So I said to her "When it's raining, you don't take it personally, do you? You don't ask "Why Me?"  when it's raining. The thieves didn't do this to you personally. There's no answer to "Why Me?" because the question is irrelevant. It just happened. That's all. Now let's go get us some new wheels.".

She was quiet for a moment. And then something shifted. Her face changed. The lines on her forehead seemed to erase themselves and melt. The color came back into her cheeks. When she looked at me again, she was smiling. "You know, you're right" she said. "I never thought of it that way.". It was over for her. All she'd done was change her point of view, with the result she was now standing in a completely new space, a context in which what had happened, had happened with no personal  attachment to it. All there was to do now was get some new wheels, something we made a game out of and had fun doing.

I ran into her again a few weeks later. "Hello!" I said. "How's your car?". "It's running really well" she said. "No, I mean the new wheels. How are the new wheels?". "Oh, that"  she replied. "They're really nice. I also bought myself some locking lugnuts so it'll never happen again.". She had all but forgotten the episode which, not so long ago had caused her so much distress, upset, and a sense of helplessness and violation. "And don't ask 'Why Me?'  when it's raining" I reminded her, smiling. She paused briefly. "Ah yes" she mused, "That was totally awesome, Dude! How did you know that?". "It's something Werner Erhard said" I replied.

"Who is Werner Erhard?" she asked.

So I told her.

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