In this era of time on my hands and emptiness, I’ve been revisiting some of the major influences on. My life and digging deeper into their messages and teachings.
R. Buckminster Fuller
My love affair with Werner Erhard and Landmark Education
Not that kind of love affair. Though it was rumored that he was (is?) quite the ladies’ man.
Werner’s thinking has been the source of my inspiration and drive since I was introduced to his lectures- more like inquiries- into what it takes to live with full self-expression, freedom, and the power to create the way life goes for ourselves.
Werner created EST in the 70s, got into some trouble and sold the company to the employees and rebranded as Landmark Education sometime after. I first participated in 2004.
Before Landmark I was living life as if I were a piece of driftwood being taken by the current. The tools I learned to practice over the years have given me access to being the captain of my own ship and I was immediately hooked.
I’ll never forget the introduction I went to. I was invited by my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend (now wife) Tracey Lerer. It was so random, but I was intrigued because we weren’t really close friends. And at the time I hadn’t learned how to turn down an invitation, I didn’t get many as it was. In addition, I was a bona fide people pleaser. But those tendencies weren’t really serving me, and something about how life was going had me less than satisfied. And so I went.
Wide-eyed and on the edge of my seat I cannot recall one thing that was said in the introduction. All I remember is how I felt. I wanted bottle up the energy in that room and take it with me. I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of participating except that I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted exactly what the woman on the stage had. And that began my love affair with the work.
I hung out in seminars for 10 years at Landmark Education chasing that high. It’s literally where I “grew up.” In many ways, I credit my father for being open enough to explore it. He and my grandmother did EST in the 70s so it didn’t seem so weird to me at all. He volunteered for the Hunger Project in the heyday with his then wife Karen, or K-Bird as I called her. They took me along to their meetings, and it felt more like a party. I have a memory of putting together Thanksgiving baskets or some kind of do-good project good like that.
It exposed me to people who were alive and present. If it feels like most people are sleepwalking, Like you have to numb yourself to get through the day because it’s all so god-damned meaningless and hallow and then you die, well then this would be your tribe. These are the people who understood that, and decided that in the face of that depressing reality, they were gonna live life on their own terms.
I’ve introduced the work to many many many people throughout the years since I actively started to participate. Some took to it and went on to become leaders, others went and didn’t like it. I’m always perplexed and a little disappointed by that.
I recently stumbled upon a treasure trove of Werner recordings on YouTube from the 70s and 80s. Here’s one if you’re interested:
I’ve been listening to them here and there – I managed to coerce my wife into listening to a couple of them hoping she’d finally get into work, even though I know better. It didn’t go great. But I’ll never likely give up. You can tell I love you a lot when I’m really pushy with the work. As I type that I can see how obnoxious it sounds and you’re right. It totally is.
I’ve almost lost friendships over Landmark, probably have and didn’t realize it. But every time someone takes to it, and gets value for their life, it’s all worth it.
I can’t listen to this without crying.