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

If You're Not Then Don't

Muir Beach, California, USA

January 2, 2012

"If you're going to write a book then write a book. If you're not then don't."  ... 
This essay, If You're Not Then Don't, is the twenty fifth 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 prequel to Waiting For You.

I am indebted to the source of Mission Control who inspired this conversation.

I've learned so much from you.

I can say it to you this way within the sanctity of our friendship. But if I'm going to say it publicly, there's a better way of saying it, a way which is a more accurate expression of it, a way which is less open to misinterpretation.

Now I don't mind saying I've learned so much from you. It's true. I have. For starters, I've learned to grow up  - in the real  sense of the words. I've learned to live my entire life as my own creation (that was tough to get, but I got it). I've learned the situations of my life are a lot less (in fact, waaay  less) powerful in swaying the outcome of my life, than my own power to create my own future. I've learned to live my life with ease and grace. I've learned the entire process called Life (all of it) is completely miraculous, regardless of any of its circumstances. And more.

But here's the trouble with saying I've learned so much from you: it's at risk of not conveying an important, implied acknowledgement - which is: "I've learned so much from myself  from you.".

It's ironic. If all I say is I've learned so much from you, as much of an acknowledgement as it is, as true  as it is, it's at risk of dishonoring what you provide.

So, spoken newly with rigor: I've learned so much from myself with the tools you provide. For that, I'm deeply grateful. I'm overjoyed, actually. And I'll be responsible for creating my own experience of being overjoyed, even as I acknowledge you for the tools, for the implements of language  you provide, with which I create the experience of being overjoyed for myself.

There was, for example, the whole episode I went through with you, trying to determine whether or not I would or could or should  make Conversations For Transformation into a book. Making this choice certainly doesn't qualify as an earth shattering event. But with everything it entailed, there was no quick, easy, obvious  resolution either.

The Plain, Simple Zen Of Writing A Book, Or Not

I describe all the issues, all the concerns, all the "what if"s  to you. I'm listening to myself reciting a sequence of "... but on the other hand ..." and then another "... but on the other hand ..." and then yet another  "... but on the other hand ..." to you - you know, I just can't get to the clear choice. Every "... but on the other hand ..." cancels out the previous one. The deeper I get into the decision making process, the further away I'm getting from making the clear choice.

You listen, waiting ... until I get to an exasperated pause. With your chin resting on your fist, you look no nonsense  directly into my eyes (it's so direct it seems as if you're looking at the back of my head through  my eyes) and you say, slowly, meticulously,




I immediately start to respond (it's on automatic  ...), but surprisingly there are no words in my throat. So I stay silent. It's not an uncomfortable silence. In fact, I'm musing  in it. Then I notice something's shifted. Something's no longer in the space which, until a few moments ago, was front and center stage. It takes me a few more moments to figure out what's gone. Then I get it:

It's all the doubt I have, all the uncertainty, all the indecisiveness around making Conversations For Transformation into a book or not, that's gone. And the thing is this: none of my questions have been answered. That's not how it happened. You haven't addressed any  of the issues I've raised. Neither have you suggested another way of looking at writing a book or not. Nor have you voted  on it: you haven't said whether you think I should make Conversations For Transformation into a book, or not. You haven't helped.

Instead, what you've provided is a field of certainty. What you've created is a context  of decisiveness. What you've generated is a space of no doubt.

"If  ... you're  ... not  ... then  ... don't ..."  ...

Wow! I love you.

My dithering which started this conversation with you, pertained to making Conversations For Transformation into a book, or not. But your "If you're not then don't  ..." brings certainty, decisiveness, and no doubt to any  venture. The Zen of it is classic. It leaves me (at first) with a kind of sheepish "Why didn't I think of it myself?".

But it's too late for that. I didn't. You did.

To Book, Or Not To Book, That Is The Question

I only do whatever I'm doing right now. I never did anything in the past. And if you insist I did  do something ie anything  in the past, I didn't. All I ever did in the past was whatever I did right now. I'll never do anything in the future either. And if you insist I will  do something ie anything in the future, I won't. All I'll ever do in the future is whatever I'll do right now.

So if I look at whatever there is for me to do, I notice I'm either

 1) doing it right now ie I'm doing it in this  now

or I'm

 2) not  doing it right now ie I'm doing it in another  now

There is, of course, a third  option, which is I'm

 3) never  doing it right now.


I acknowledge the source of Mission Control for these three distinctions.


With this in mind, what's so with regards to making Conversations For Transformation into a book is I'm never doing it right now.

Making Conversations For Transformation into a book isn't a doing it right now for me ... and  ... it may become a doing it right now. It may also become a not  doing it right now. We'll see. But, really, here's the thing: neither is it on my radar to look at moving it from a never doing it right now, to a doing it right now, or even to a not doing it right now. What I got complete with from myself (and I'll add "... using the tools, using the implements of language you provide  ..." so there's no possible misinterpretation) is this: whatever  you (I'm generalizing now) embark on doing or not, be it writing a book or any  other venture, just get the god‑damned dither  out of it.

If you're going to do it then do it. And if you're not, then don't.

That's your classic, beautiful Zen.

Thank You!

Having Given Up The Struggle

And you look ... no nonsense, directly into my eyes, so directly it's as if you're looking at the back of my head through  my eyes, your chin resting on your fist.

You're smiling. Now so am I.

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