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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?”  When I took my first breath, I happened to be in Washington, D.C., my mother having just moved from Denmark and my father from Holland.  Dutch and Danish became the first languages I spoke.  In preschool, I learned English.  Later, French, Spanish…

Recently in a dream, I found myself in the large, bustling hall of a monastery where the same prayer was being offered in many different languages, one after the other.  I understood that each language–its whole compendium of words–was nothing but a single word, a naming of the great reality we all knew.

My name is Karin, but if the name is meant to distinguish me from all else, it means nothing.  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 a name were spoken, we felt called in that way?  The name would sound like prayer.  An acknowledgment…

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, ensconced in a forest of mountain laurel, oak, and pine.  The trees infused my childhood with their quiet rootedness, transforming the sound of my step, the ebb and flow of my breath.  Their presence was palpable.  They spoke words to me as clear as the light dropping through their leaves.  Even now, I identify with trees and the animals they shelter, as much as with humanity.  They, too, raised me, taught me…

But I traveled a lot, and after high school, I kept moving.  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.  Her coming into the world–that threshold–had me enthralled.  And every day, as I gazed out over the rolling hills of volcanic rock, eyes resting upon an expanse of water and sky, I understood that the land beneath me feet was also newborn and continuing to grow and change, spilling lava into the cooling waves.  To live on the shore, both literal and metaphoric, and breathe the air there–this is what I crave above all else.  Together, Dahlia and I continue to live near water, in Seattle.  On one side lies Lake Washington; on the other, the Salish Sea…

What I like most about writing is that you don’t have to specialize and focus on one thing.  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 and 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…