How to Get Lost (And What to Do When You Are There)

An Open Mind Retreat with John Tarrant
March 23-26, 2017, Bolinas, CA Thursday eve to Sunday noon

When the night is dark and the world has gone mad, that’s the time to lose your way.

Getting lost is the middle part of the story where everything exciting happens, stranger and mysterious.

All you have to do is get out of bed and already you’re beginning to get lost. You’re alone and afraid, or in a war, or can’t cope with spouses and kids, or you’re lost in the woods with only a red hoodie and a basket and the night is full of sounds. Hardship, impossible tasks, and surprising allies all belong to getting lost.

In the story it seems as though it’s all a means to an end, to “happily ever after”, but we are always in the middle of the story. And that’s where the happiness is, too.

Things happen when you get lost, the world changes, the old ways don’t work anymore, something new comes into being. And this happens over and over again. It’s the beginning of getting found but you don’t know that yet. So perhaps the strategy is just getting really, really lost, waking up from the slumber of a certain destiny into the wonder of what’s here. Getting lost is a way to get beyond your fear of getting lost. Getting lost is also way to get somewhere. Where? The sounds of night and rain. The the gleam of goodness in what frightens you, the peace that has always been here, and runs through everything.

I remember being caught after sunset in the Queensland rainforest. I had no light. The canopy was dense, there was no light from above, even when it rained I might not feel it. I didn’t know where I was and I wasn’t going to get home before dawn. The night was full of voices, birds, luminous beetles and mushrooms, glowworms, the occasional thump of a wallaby. I saw it was a different world from the day and just as important to itself as my world was to me. I slept well in the roots of a great fig. I was dry. When the path ran out, the trees took care of me.

In this retreat we’ll look at stories, koans and poems about losing and finding your way. We’ll consider and perhaps reconsider our own stories. There will be time for writing and drawing and walking by the sea and under the cypress trees with the sound of waves and whales to keep us company in our meditation. There will be teaching and conversation. There will be excellent food.

– John Tarrant


Note: this event is on a waitlist; please contact the registrar with registration requests or any questions.


Logistics & Heave-Ho


When: March 23-26, 2017 – Thursday Evening to Sunday Noon

Commonweal Center
451 Mesa Rd, Bolinas, CA 94924

Member/Early Registration
Single $840
Double $640
Couple $1020

Non-Member/Early Registration

Single $890
Double $690
Couple $1120

(Registration fees raise by $50 one month prior to the event.)

  • Delicious vegetarian meals are included. Please inform us if you have special dietary needs.



Image Credit:
“On The Way to the Opera in the Year 2000”, Albert Robida, hand-colored lithograph, 1882.

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