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

Wild Horses

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 13, 2019

"Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth." ... Alan Watts

This essay, Wild Horses, is the companion piece to You Can't Hold On To A Wriggling Puppy.

It is also the fourth in a quintology on Children: I am indebted to my sons Christian Laurence Platt and Joshua Nelson Platt and to all parents with twenty-something children, who inspired this conversation.

If your job description for being a parent raising children (over and beyond providing them with the essential physical necessities to ensure they grow up developing the healthiest bodies possible) requires giving them the abstracts and ideas which make living a life that works possible, then it's all over by the time they're four years old - at least that's what the professionals in the know say.

Once they're four years old, you don't have very long before an interesting scenario starts playing out. As children grow, it becomes their  job to figure it all out* for themselves. When they do, they'll stop listening you with the same wide-eyed open zeal they once did. Anyone who's raised children knows the frustrations (and other similar internal goings-on) that go with the onset of them not listening. Look: it's essential  for them to develop independent thought. It's what every parent wants for their children. Yet there's the concern "It's too soon, they're only children!  they're too young, what do they know?!". That's a natural concern for any parent to have.

Take heart. Their not listening is actually a sign that you got your job done, a sign that they're thinking (or starting to think) for themselves independently. They must do that. If they don't, it's a sign of failure to launch. Celebrate the inevitable onset of the era of your children not listening. It's a sign something good is happening.

How great it would be if you could lay it all out for them: how to circumvent danger before it strikes; how to appreciate when openings appear, and how to capitalize on them immediately before they close again; how to avoid being hurt, cheated, scammed, and / or let down. There's a fine line between being concerned about them, and getting in their way. There's another fine line between things you can teach them, and things they must  learn for themselves (things in which your teaching them, no matter how well-intentioned, is an interference which will only sow confusion).

Listen: if they don't  learn things for themselves and by themselves, then blindly accepting them from you (no matter how earnestly) is as good as having not learned them at all. Children learn by doing it their way (at least at first) at no matter what the cost. It's in their nature of being human. Without the trial-and-error learning process, a certain freedom of choice atrophies. Leave the children be, to discover it all for themselves. Supporting them (and all I mean by that is being present  for them) while allowing them to make and learn from their own mistakes (and wins), is arguably the greatest gift you can give them.

They'll make all the mistakes you hope they'll avoid, all the mistakes they'll adamantly aver won't be mistakes. Let them discover for themselves, even if you have to bite your tongue and turn away. They will learn. Sometimes they'll learn productively. Other times they'll struggle to give up ways they want to be, yet can't (simply because they don't work). They will learn. You may even notice them "learning" to not  be who they really are. Just let them be. Stand back. They ... will  ... learn  ...

Like the wild horses of the Camargue who run unfettered, if you seek to corral children to afford them too much of what you've  determined / imposed would be a preferable way of life for them, they lose the very quality which makes them so beautiful, so inspiring, and so awesome to begin with: their freedom. Best stay out of their way, and let them have at it. They'll figure it out (didn't you?) - that is, they'll figure out as much as it's prudent to figure out in order to play the game. Just notice that having figured out how to play the game isn't the inspiring feature of wild horses. Their inspiring feature is that they be, that they're wild, that they're free.

* A note about children figuring it all out for themselves:

With the onset of transformation later in life, two things become patently clear:

 1)  no matter how much you try, no matter how much it may seem as if you can, you can't figure it all out;
 2)  in any case, that which strives to figure it all out, isn't who you really are.

My observations about children in this essay may predate their transformation by many, many years. While it may only become obvious to them later in life that trying to figure it all out is futile, early on it's their Job #1  (as Ford Motor Company may have said).

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