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 II

Monticello Road, Napa Valley, California, USA

February 7, 2014

"You don't ask 'Why me?'  when it's raining." ... 
This essay, You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II, is the companion piece to
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Internal States
  3. Wound Up Worrier
  4. On Not Taking It Personally: A New Freedom
in that order.

It is also the thirtieth in an open group Encounters With A Friend:
  1. Showing Up
  2. Poet Laureate
  3. A Man In The Crowd
  4. Real Men Cry
  5. A Different Set Of Rules
  6. Nametag: A True Story
  7. Half-Life
  8. Waiting On You
  9. Erotica On Schedule
  10. A House On Franklin Street
  11. NeXT
  12. Reflection On A Window
  13. Here And There
  14. How To Enroll The World
  15. Demonstration
  16. Two Of Me II: Confirmation Not Correction
  17. Holiday Spectacular
  18. Hello! How Are Things Going For You?
  19. Regular Guy
  20. A Scholar And A Gentleman
  21. Images Of You
  22. With Nothing Going On
  23. Where No One Has Gone Before
  24. Attachment: Causeway Between Islands
  25. If You're Not Then Don't
  26. Images Of You II
  27. Living Where Life Is
  28. Create Me The Way I Am
  29. How Do You Spell The Sound A Ratchet Makes?
  30. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
  31. The Stink Of Zen
  32. Sitting Quietly In A Room Alone
  33. Footsteps On Metal Stairs
so far, in that order.

It is also the second in the trilogy You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining:
  1. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining
  2. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining II
  3. You Don't Ask "Why Me?"  When It's Raining III
It is also the prequel to Just Another Piece In The World: Access To Mastery.

We're driving, somewhere, in a car.

This is the perfect opportunity to get some private time together and talk. We didn't just get in the car and drive around aimlessly. There's a place we have to get to, a place we would have driven to anyway. This then is the perfect opportunity to combine two things: driving to where we're going, and talking. If we weren't having this conversation, we'd be having another one. If it wasn't me who was the party to this conversation, it would have been someone else.

I'm fascinated by his ideas about our internal states  - you know, our feelings, our moods  etc, all those emotional experiences which seem to come over  us whether we want them to or not. I really get where he's coming from when he speaks, in contradistinction to being overcome by our internal states, about mastery as "living life where it actually happens" ie as "living life out-here". In this regard, the best way to not embolden the internal states is to simply leave them alone and just ... be ... out  ... HERE. As for a powerful statement with which to address the internal states, (which is to say, as for a powerful statement to try on  with which to address the internal states), how about "So what?!"?

Now, not everyone is going to warm immediately to "So what?!" addressed to their own internal states. But for those who do warm to it, for those who do get it, it's truly awesome - completely, totally, and utterly awesome. That's really something, actually: to be able to look inside your own head  (so to speak), and to be big enough  to be able to say, above all the cacophony of noise produced by all the internal states vying for your attention, "So what?!".

If after trying it on, "So what?!" isn't palatable, or if it lands as unnecessarily harsh or callous (it's actually neither, but if it lands  that way for you), then "Thank you for sharing!" works just as well. But listen: both "So what?!" and "Thank you for sharing!" will only start gaining lasting leverage and power once you've become familiar with and grounded in his distinction "out-here" as the context for both statements "So what?!" and "Thank you for sharing!".

Then, by now well into the conversation, after a long pause he says slowly and deliberately "You don't ask 'Why me?' when it's raining.".

He's not looking at me when he says it. He's looking out the window at something I can't determine other than it's somewhere in the far distance. When he says it, what he's implying ie what he's getting at, hits me like a thunderbolt. It's an occasion mirrored exactly in the daily goings on of a Zen monastery. I'm momentarily caught off guard. The master, leaping out of hiding when I'm least expecting him (the Zen master's training mostly targets attention lapses), whacks me on the shoulder with a wooden broadsword. A link in the chain which binds my existing epistemology  in place, snaps - it simply snaps.

What?!  I can't believe it. Did he just equate my feelings, my moods etc did he just equate all those emotional experiences and internal states which seem to come over me whether I want them to or not, with the weather?  ... and the weather isn't personal  - like "You don't ask 'Why me?' when it's raining"?

It's an idea with enough power to totally alter my experience of living as I know it ie to totally alter our  experience of living as we  know it.

And he's right: I don't  ask "Why me?" when it's raining. I do, however, ask "Why me?" (in some form or another) when those feelings, moods, and emotional experiences come over me ie when those internal states run wild. I do, in spite of myself, take them personally. His idea, on the other hand, regards them just like the changing weather which never evokes a "Why me?" from me, and for which there's never any suggestion I take it personally.

It's rocking my world. At first, all I can say is "Wow! ...". Then I start to speak more - but I change my mind and remain silent instead. There's actually nothing else to say. For the first time I notice the quiet purr  of the car's engine. He's still looking out the window at something I don't know in the far distance. This is one of those marvelous out of time moments when the car seems to be standing still and it's the road which is coming fast toward us.

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