There is one blog I read very regularly. It’s not even a blog really, but that’s the most common way to describe it in today’s parlance. It’s not hosted on one of the big blog sites or custom hosted by one of the big blog engines. Rather than attempting to explain it I’d rather just send you to two of my favorite posts. One of them is about a snake and the other is about a nametag. For me these two posts sum up much of our existence, though there is a lot more written in these Conversations For Transformation that point to the whole of it. It’s just that these two speak to me at the deepest level without actually talking about it, in a similar way that a poet can presence love without even using the word.
My relationship with Werner Erhard starts over half of my life ago. The most common way of putting it is that “I owe my life to Werner Erhard.” That probably isn’t the clearest way to say what I’m trying to say but it communicates the depth of it. To say it more clearly is to say that my encounter with his work in the world altered the way I experience my life, both the joys and the sorrows, the love and the fear, and everything in between. There was my life before I encountered his work and there is my life ever since. There is also my life ever since ever since in which I actually met Werner, but that’s another story.
Many people probably “owe their lives” to somebody they’ve never met, for example, every citizen (or not) of the United States “owes their life” to the founding fathers of that country and the work, or the manifestation of an idea, that they created. You can also use the example of formalized religion and the way the customs and norms of that religion shape your life. I “owe my life” and the way I experience it to being a Catholic. It’s seldom that the before/after distinction is made so clearly and matter of factly that we actually notice it though. Now, there have been many things written about this work and it’s value or not, but that isn’t the point of this entry either…maybe that’s another story.
This blog entry is a continued attempt at making sense of who I am as a result of being forever altered by somebody else’s ideas. In a way you could say that I was created inside of the conversation of that work. I invented myself in the clearing that was created by my participation in the Forum in 1989. In the years since my participation I’ve read many scholarly articles about social constructionism (as a general corral for these ideas – though that isn’t necessarily accurate) and the ways in which reality is created by our meaning making in shared conversation. I had a conversation, guided or led by two other people, over the course of two weekends supported by probably 20 others, paid for in part by myself and in part by a loan made by a complete stranger, and experienced with and through about 125 other people, including my brother-in-law and one of my best friends, and at the end of that conversation I was left with an experience of complete freedom to say what my life was going to be about. In the 22 years since then I’ve said, and produced, quite a few results that wouldn’t have been possible (or would they) without having had that first Conversation For Transformation.
Laurence, the writer behind Conversations for Transformation, often refers to “Source” and “You” in a very abstract way. I imagine that it’s meant to be abstract, a little tongue in cheek, a little “slippery”, though I’ve never asked. It makes sense to me that it is slippery because I experience the slippery-ness of it. Granting myself the responsibility of having created my own experience is one of the major learnings of the Forum and it’s one of the major learnings of my MPOD coursework as well. Or is it? If having that experience was created inside of another’s experiential learning opportunity, how can I be sure that I’ve created it? The dialetheia of it indirectly points to the self-referential nature of social constructionism and it also indirectly points to Heidegger’s writing on aletheia and the nature of unconcealing.
The unconcealed aletheia of it occurs for me as there are times when I’m experiencing myself as the source of my experience and there are times when I’m experiencing myself as occurring “inside of” other people as sourcing my experience. It’s interesting to me that my two intersecting, yet diverging, paths of education are both currently and concurrently leading to similar methods of presencing “something”.
My MPOD coursework in Europe had quite a bit to do with the use of improvisation as a method for generating “new” types of conversation in organizations and Landmark Education (the current manifestation of Werner’s ideas in the world) offers “The World as Your Stage” workshop. Additionally, much of my MPOD coursework has centered on recent research from the field of neuroscience and the “proof” of the ways the brain is altered in positive based conversations including Appreciative Inquiry, positive psychology, and Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Theory. Landmark is currently offering the Direct Access course and the Invented Life seminar which have components of neuroscience smattered in them. (Full disclosure – I’ve only taken the Invented Life seminar and not the World as Your Stage or Direct Access courses).
Slightly tongue in cheek then, I ask myself, is this a coincidence that my two avenues of learning are heading in the same direction or is it that I am the source of it all. Maybe I’ve always been the source of it all? Maybe I’ve been the source of Werner Erhard and his transformation on the Golden Gate Bridge (it was just a year after I was born after all)? Maybe I was the source of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, facilitated by my professors from Case, which then led me to find the MPOD program (it was just a year after my declaration of myself as the possibility of the transformation of Cleveland after all)?
Either way, I love having conversations of inquiry to consider the possibilities and make less sense of it all. It looks like I am the source of my own confusion…and why would I have it any other way?