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

Your Act:

The Role Of A Lifetime?

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

December 3, 2012

I am indebted to Commander Dreyvan Dayse, Indian Navy (ret), who inspired this conversation, and to Charlene Afremow who contributed material.

Theatre Masks
A Cecil B DeMille epic is billed with a cast of thousands  deploying scores of actors to act in all the roles, and hundreds and hundreds  of extras. The Divine Play  on the other hand has a cast of billions:  all humanity - past, present, and future. In the Divine Play the Self acts as itself and also acts in every one of the other billions of roles as well.

When the Self acts in every one of the other billions of roles of the Divine Play, it plays the parts of you and I. That's who we really are: the Self. Our roles in the Divine Play are all  acted by the Self cleverly pretending to be separate you and separate I. The Self is so good at acting in the roles of you and I that we've forgotten who we really are.

Key to discovering who you really are is discovering your act ie the role you play. You've forgotten you're just acting (this is the Divine Play, remember?). It's your act which prevents you being authentically who you really are. The act you play is the basis of your strong suits. It's the basis of your rackets. It's the basis of who you consider yourself to be  - in other words your act was in place even prior to your identity.

Your act is where you come from  - albeit unknowingly, albeit unwittingly. It's a context  for your life. And the thing of it is when you first created your act, you created it as a command  ... yes, a command uttered in a moment of real or imaginary failure.

I came home from school one day. It hadn't been a good day. I had been teased by some boys in my class (in those days bullied  referred to teasing accompanied by physical abuse). I walked back to our house (my school was close enough) afraid, helpless, upset. My mother Andee was sitting at her classic Singer  sewing machine.

As she sewed she asked me how my day went. I was embarrassed and didn't want to talk about it. I told her so. She asked me to tell talk about it. I told her so. She asked me to tell her what happened anyway. I again said I didn't want to. When she asked me a third time, I relented and told her - in great detail. It was uncomfortable and cathartic to recall the whole awful experience. When I finished she said "It couldn't have been as bad as that Laurence. You're making it up.".

Whoa!  After taking such a chance, I'd failed to convince her I wanted (no, needed)  her to protect me from the teasers (Heck! I'd even failed to protect myself  from the teasers). I knew  I didn't want to talk about it in the first place but she made me do it. Now my failure being teased at school was compounded by my failure making myself heard at home. I said "You didn't listen to me. You don't listen to me. You never listen to me.".


It actually works better to say "You don't listen me" than to say "You don't listen to  me.".

However, to say "You don't listen to me" is good enough for jazz.


This is how I scripted my act, the command "You don't listen to me", in the grand theatre of the Divine Play. From then on no one  listened to me.

Be careful: "From then on no one listened to me" isn't a trivial  remark. Rather it's a critical insight  into the workings and consequences of my act. Since there are workings and consequences to everyone's act, I'd like to clarify what I mean by it:

It's not that everyone in the world was intent on not listening to me (My! What a fabulous conspiracy  worthy of documentation by Oliver Stone that  would be ...). No, it's that in my experience  no one listened to me, such was the way I as my act  commanded the universe. And for my act to be right I had to perpetuate it. In other words for my act to be right I had to fail to be listened to  ... again and again and again.


Later (much  later) I realized this is akin to me donning a pair of red tinted spectacles then forgetting I did that and holding everyone else to account for my world showing up red.


When you created your act you intended it to last forever. You gave it a lifetime warranty. In the grand theatre of the Divine Play your act is quite literally your role of a lifetime. In creating your act you also created your first inauthenticity  and your first pretense  - your first masks  if you will. Oh yes, and in creating your act and then playing it (your role of a lifetime) to the max, you were so convincing in the role that you inadvertently laid the groundwork for forgetting who you really  are (this is the Divine Play, remember?) ... and then you actually did  forget who you really are. In other words then you lost your Self and became your act. Said yet another way, you lost your Self in  your act.

Your act isn't a decision. Your strong suit is a decision. You developed your strong suit as compensation for not being enough. Your act came before  your strong suit and before your racket. It's more than that actually. It's your strong suit and your racket could have come out of your act at the same moment you commanded whatever you commanded in the moment of failure.

The command uttered in the moment of failure was a forceful attempt to stop the failure (to dispel the fear, to end the helplessness, to soothe the upset) and / or to make something happen (to be listened to, to be heard, to get attention, to be protected). But ironically your act isn't about you. Rather it's directed at someone else  ie it's forced outward. My act is "You  don't listen to me.". It's not "I'm  not listened to.". The difference is both subtle and profound. When you created your act you laid it on someone else  (so to speak).

Rewriting The Script: Accessing Your Act

Before you created your act you were just yourself: context, space, possibility. In fact before you created your act you were the possibility of possibility itself. You cried when you cried. You laughed when you laughed. You had no pretense. You were too young  to have pretense.

The access to your act is to recall an experience of failure, an experience of failure from any past occasion. Recall a time you failed. It could be today. It could be the original experience. The original experience you're looking for happened soon after you got language. So the command you uttered is simple and childlike ie it's in the language of a child. It sounds the way a child would say it.

As you recall the past experience of failure, notice what happened. Notice where it happened. Notice when  it happened. Who was there? Who said what? What was the exact moment you experienced failure? Where is it held in your body?  If that part of your body could talk, what would it say about what it's holding?  What command did you utter? Don't be reasonable. Don't rationalize. Don't explain. Don't  ... make  ... excuses. Take whatever comes up. Take whatever you get.

Then recall an earlier experience of failure, and do the process again. Then recall an even earlier experience of failure, and do the process again. Soon you'll get the original experience ie your original inauthenticity, your act. When you do you'll also regain your choice to freely keep your act or to walk away from it.

Listen: there's no storytelling  when you do this. This isn't Monday morning quarterbacking. It's not a reporter's commentary from the stands and it's not locker room banter. Neither is this armchair psychoanalysis. Something happened. Someone (you and / or someone else) did something. Someone (you and / or someone else) said something. Then you uttered your command. Period. That's it!  From that moment on your act, your role of a lifetime, was in place. That's all. The rest you made up.


"The  ... rest  ... I  ... made  ... up  ..."?

But isn't that just what my mother said to me all those years ago?


Why Walk Away From The Role Of A Lifetime?

So why walk away from your act? Why would an actor walk away from the role of a lifetime? Why would any self-respecting thespian  ever discard the masks their role of a lifetime calls for them to wear?

One essential answer to this question is another question: what if your act just doesn't serve you anymore?

I've noticed that in order to be right, in order to survive, indeed in order to consistently be who I consider myself to be  I have to perpetuate my act ie I have to perpetuate the command, I have to perpetuate "You don't listen to me", I have to perpetuate not being listened to, I have to perpetuate the failure. This robs me of my freedom, drains my power, dampens my joy, inhibits my full Self expression, interferes with my desire to generate intimacy. It clouds my transformed awareness  of who I really am (this is the Divine Play, remember?).

Those right there  are only six of my many grounds for walking away from my act. And for each of you, the cast of billions of actors in the other roles of the Divine Play, there are many, many more.

The presentation, delivery, and style of Your Act: The Role Of A Lifetime? are all my own work.
The ideas recreated in Your Act: The Role Of A Lifetime? were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by  .

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