sit here

April 4th, 2013


Conventional wisdom has it that California is sinking into the Pacific. One more quake, they say, and this silly sandcastle will be swept offshore. But they have it upside down. We’re already on the bottom of the sea. Five million years ago, seismic storms pushed the Pacific crust to the surface of the Earth. We are the children of a risen ocean. We scuff our shoes on its billowy floor.

Conventional wisdom says this ancient practice of mine no longer reaches. It does not translate. Westerners don’t get it. It’s too hard and long and fruitless (although science, medicine and common sense affirm it at every turn.)  We’re competing with many other pastimes, the reasoning goes. Better give people what they want when they want it, or they will . . . do what? Scatter, like so much dust.

Thinking like that is a sure way to lose ground. Where wisdom is the agenda, there is no wisdom.

This is my inexhaustible desire: that you will find a guide who is both patient and daring, unafraid to watch you struggle, drift, and finally settle in the tempest of your own pot. One who will keep you quiet company as you go deep and dig, until you look up and see that you are not sinking, you are not hopeless, your cause is not lost. There is no war and no enemy, no hurry and no wait. You are sitting upside up in the echoless calm of a deep, clear ocean, no wind or waves, and you are breathing, breathing, breathing.

Golden Gate: A Weekend Retreat on the Marin Headlands, Sat.-Sun., June 8-9, Sausalito, CA.  For everyone.



  1. your ‘inexhaustible desire’ has recently unfolded in my life, I have been asking how?, how has this guide appeared in this time?, your intentions have reached far

    Comment by MJ — March 31, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  2. 1. Conventional wisdom has it wrong: The ‘big one’ earthquake will see the rest of the country sink into the sea … leaving California as sunny and blissful as ever. 🙂

    2. After my son and I went on a hot-air balloon ride last July, I sent a note of thanks to the balloon captain, Paul. He sent a nice note in return: ” “I like to think of flying as the extension of my art training and 50 plus years of farming the land in Worthington. Every flight is different and creative, and for the brief time that we glide through the sky, everyone’s perspective changes as if looking through the eyes of a hawk, in timeless flight, looking to be gently set back down into the loving arms of mother earth. You and your son are now, bottom dwellers in the sea of air. Soft landings, Paul.”

    “Bottom dwellers in a sea of air” — I can’t top that.

    Comment by adam fisher — March 31, 2013 @ 9:13 am

  3. You always bring me up from where I am, or at the very least, force me to look up to where I want to be. Fo this, I thank you, I sit here and i breath and I thank you.

    Comment by Daisy Marshall — March 31, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  4. “This is my inexhaustible desire…” is like a love letter to all of humanity…and I will pass it along to others because it is simply too much to be held by one heart alone…

    Comment by Deborah Boettcher — April 1, 2013 @ 8:30 am

  5. It reaches Karen…it reaches. We keep passing the torch, and the flame burns bright.

    Comment by Kirsten — April 2, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

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