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“Where are you from?” we’re always asked.  “When?” I want to say.  “Today… or yesterday?  Or when I was born?”  I took my first breath in Washington, D.C., my mother having just moved from Denmark and my father from Holland.  Dutch and Danish were the first languages I spoke…

Recently in a dream, I found myself in the large, bustling hall of a monastery where the same prayer was offered in different languages in succession.  I understood that each language–its whole compendium of words–was nothing but a single name–a way of calling to the great reality we all knew.

I could never identify with my name when I saw it as a way of distinguishing me.  Only when I think of Karin as a way of calling to the life that is deepest inside, beyond definition, does the name resonate.  What if every time someone spoke your name, it sounded like a prayer?

As a child, I traveled in and out of the country, living in Malaysia and later, Swaziland.  We always returned to the same house in Virginia, immersed in a forest of oak, mountain laurel, and pine.  Rooted and quiet, these trees infused my childhood with their gentleness, transforming the sound of my step, the flow of my breath.  They spoke words as palpable as the light dropping through their leaves.  Even now, I identify with the trees and the animals they shelter, as much as with humankind.  They helped raise me, teach me…

Still, I traveled a lot, and after high school, I kept going.  I studied and worked in various vibrant cities–Lyon, Boston, the Hague, Toronto, Brooklyn…  Then, I found myself on an island in the middle of the Pacific.  No place is more isolated, surrounded by more of the vast ocean that covers our earth, than Hawaii.  This is where Dahlia, my daughter, was born.  That threshold still has me transfixed.  Together, we continue to live near the water, in Seattle.

What I like most about writing is that you don’t have to specialize.  I’m driven to connect the most disparate things–to bring home the sheer reality of what’s here, to bring myself home that way.  I never want to stop learning, experiencing…

Teaching, too, is about constantly pressing into the unknown.  When I’m guiding another, I’m riding that edge into all that surrounds us.  Aligning myself with someone’s abilities and inclinations and then helping them forward makes for one of the most intimate connections I know.  Side by side, we ride that remarkable wave forward…