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

Natural Expression

Chicago, Illinois, USA

May 14, 2009

This essay, Natural Expression, is the first in the fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  2. What Goes On Internally
  3. Riding The Horse Revisited
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Close Up, Face To Face, Larger Than Life, And Twice As Natural.

It is also the prequel to Mint Condition.

Photography by Michael Schropp - 7:35pm Friday May 15, 2009
Werner Erhard
It's hot. Very  hot. It's summer in the city. I'm here early. There's some gorgeous pieces of art which capture my attention. I remove my jacket for the heat, hook my finger through the collar loop, and sling it over my shoulder as I walk around, scrutinizing each piece, paying attention to the carefully displayed artist's notes. Eventually even the jacket on my shoulder adds too much warmth, so I lay it down carefully on an empty pedestal, most likely the home of a temporarily absent sculpture. I wait. But there's no impatience. I'm here. You'll come soon.

I turn around, away from "Winter In Oils"  or something like that ... and here you are! You throw open your arms and greet me with "Hello Laurence!" in the rich, deep, Philadelphian accent, a blazing smile flickering across your face. We embrace. God! It always seems this moment will never  come. My eyes mist over but I'm not embarrassed. I'm careful, very  careful about your privacy and confidentiality, so I don't greet you by name. I say "Hello Chief!  It's great  to see you again.". I mean it. No kidding!

The cab driver's having a hard time keeping his eyes on the road. He's stealing furtive glances at you in his rear view mirror. Finally he can't contain himself anymore. He bursts out "'scuse  me, Sir: does anyone ever tell you you look like Werner Erhard?". I anticipate your answer. You could say (and still be telling the truth) "Yes, I get that a lot.". That would be a good response. Privacy and confidentiality stay paramount. Instead you say "I'm Werner Erhard.". The cabbie's eyes open wider. He's delighted. "Damn! I knew  it!". He's all smiles now, but his eyes are on the road ahead. The thought "Wow!" crosses my mind ... but I remain silent.

It's a short, easy walk to the restaurant you've chosen. We talk along the way. But I'm still a bit giddy. Ground control to Major Tom:  come in, please. My concern for your privacy and confidentiality snaps to attention again with what happens next. You greet the Maître D' who, sure enough, asks for the name on the reservation. I assume it'll be the aide's who made the reservation.

Wrong again! Without pause you reply "Erhard", again in the rich, deep, Philadelphian accent, the same megawatt smile blazing for her as it did for me. No hiding. No holding back. Heads turn. Now there's a whole new frame of reference in place for me. Something of which I've been totally sure  has just been vanquished, blown away. But then again, isn't this what always  happens around you?

When I lived in the Fiji Islands I learned to eat with my fingers, eschewing utensils the way the islanders do, adding an extra dimension to the eating experience: touch  ... in addition to the already sight, smell, and taste. I suddenly realize I'm eating with my fingers. At the table set with crystal and silver, I'm eating with my fingers and I don't realize I'm eating with my fingers  until I notice you smiling at me. I'm totally uninhibited around you, so much so I don't consciously realize I'm totally uninhibited around you. "I'm sorry" I say, catching myself, and this time I am  just a tad embarrassed. "No, please don't be. I like eating with my fingers too" you say, picking up some salad, putting it in your mouth. Suddenly the dots are connected. Laurence's lost weekend in Fiji  (which lasted a year) comes clear through from thirty three years ago into the present ... and what better time, what better place, what better friend  to share it with than now, here, and with you?

Something comes up. Abruptly you stand to leave. You say you'll be back shortly. "I'll come with you!" I say, standing too. "No. You stay here.". It's more than firm. It's more like running into a brick wall. No one I know is so clear. No one I know is as intentional. Only this  brick wall has a velvet veneer. There's no force  in the expression. There's no aggression. The total 100% certainty  of it speaks for itself. I get clear instantly  my place is here, and your place is gone.

And then an amazing thing happens. I'm sitting looking at your empty chair, looking at your napkin laid neatly, just so  on your place setting, and I realize that's who you are:  an empty space, a clearing, a true nothing  in which a true something  can show up. I'm awed. In a way, you're more here when you're gone than when you're here!  As I see you returning to the room, I spontaneously stand up in respect. There's no decision  to stand up, mind you. I just notice my legs extend by themselves  ... and now I'm standing alone in the center of the room. It's a natural expression. You see me standing from across the room, nodding your head in acknowledgement as you walk back to our table.

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