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?

With Love,


Socially Constructed Reality

This story will appear to be about me.  This story is about we.  When we are blind to the context we are born into and nobody makes us aware that no matter how much it appears to be the way it is, and we are all making up the way it is, we are left feeling trapped and not known.  This is a story from my life where I constructed reality and became funny and trapped.

This story occurred when I was three or four years old, maybe one of the earliest incidents that I recall in life.  At this age I would consider my Self as close to a “pure being” as is possible in human form while still having some use of language and memories that I might recall. 

I remember sitting up on the kitchen counter with my Dad who was leaning on the counter next to me drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  He would occasionally let me have sips of his beer and I recall that he did let me do it this time.  In the next part of the memory, one of his friends, a Cleveland cop, is parked in the driveway in his police cruiser and he and my Dad are talking for some time and drinking more beer while they talk. 

Eventually, I remember coming back into the house through the front door and through the entry foyer with my Dad, and my Mom is in the house, not very happy about something.  What that something is has no bearing on the memory, which is good because I can’t remember what they were fighting about, if I ever knew.  What I do recall is a vivid feeling and desire to explain to them how none of what they are fighting about is important.  What is important is that there is love. 

It would be easy to trivialize this incident and say that I was just a little kid, and I was afraid about my parents fighting, and I wanted to make everything ok.  But the memory is so vivid of the perspective that I was watching them argue from, and thinking, even as a little kid, how foolish they were being, and how they didn’t even know how foolish they were being.  It was not a childish, self-surviving experience of love that I was trying to tell them about, but a deep sense of why we’re all here to bask and relish in the amazing gift of love and space and being that we all are.

Now, I am much older than I was at that time, and I have a much larger vocabulary than I did at that time, and I am so much more worldly than I was at that time, yet those things do not seem to make much difference in my ability to explain or talk about this sense of, or presence of love that I was attempting to express to my parents.  It may be that no words exist to express it fully.

What happened was that I tried explaining it to them and they even stopped fighting for a little bit to give me the opportunity to try to explain it to them, but I didn’t do it any justice and they resumed arguing.  I was left with a sense that no matter what I did I wouldn’t be able to get them to understand, and my parents would continue to fight.  They continued fighting, on and off, until only a few years ago when they finally divorced officially, a year or two after my Dad was diagnosed with some form of dementia.

That day though, I do recall that eventually my parents did stop fighting.  After I had given up explaining to them something that I could not properly describe, I did somehow get them to start laughing with some silly childish method which I don’t remember.  I don’t recall what I did, but it was effective in getting them to stop fighting for a little while.  As a result of that failure to presence love for and with my parents, and the subsequent “good enough to get them to stop fighting” response, I spent a good part of the next 20 years or so perfecting the art of well-timed methods for getting people to laugh, since I couldn’t get them to really understand me. 

Until very recently, I believe that a lot of people that know me would say that I’m pretty funny or have a good sense of humor, but not a lot of people would say that they had a very good sense of who I am.  The way it occurred for me, as a phenomenon, is that the majority of people never had any idea who I really am.

Eventually, all that wise cracking in life, school, and beginning work life started to take its toll and my life had become a lot less promising than it started out to be and was definitely not fulfilling because nobody really knew me and I didn’t know myself.  It was around the time of my 19th birthday that I had my first exposure to a model of integrity that allowed me to realize that I wasn’t really being true to myself.  Just recognizing that altered the course of my life significantly in many ways, and without knowing it I spent the next half of my life seeking that which I couldn’t explain, mostly because I still couldn’t remember that incident from my childhood. 

I did have some luck in explaining that unexplainable sense of love to the woman that would become my wife and we created a relationship and a family based in that. 

A couple of years ago, I took a course at the University of Rochester that had me recall that initial incident or that “break” with my true Self.  Since then, I’ve been living my life coming from that place of love and finding a way to turn that into something meaningful in the world.  After all, it wouldn’t make any sense to me to know the secrets of the universe and not attempt to share them with everybody else. 

This blog is one avenue to expand the presence and the space within which we exist. 

See if you can recall a time in your past, perhaps when you were very young, where you made a decision about yourself and have been living from that decision ever since.  This is a socially constructed reality.  You began by creating that reality with yourself and in time everybody began to know you from that reality.  Today they would tell you, “Yes, that’s just the way you are.”

Maybe it’s not.

With Love,