Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Return To Pelican Inn

Pelican Inn, Muir Beach, California, USA

June 29, 2015



"There are places I'll remember all my life though some have changed."
... The Beatles, In My Life

"Coming home to where you started is not the same as never leaving."
... Terry Pratchett

"As soon as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude. There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."
... Samuel Johnson

"A wonderful bird is the pelican: his beak can hold more than his belican."
... Dixon Lanier Merritt




We won't have much time together. So she asks me to only take her to great places. That's not hard to do if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area: they're all  great places here. In fact if you want to give me a hard time ie if you want to challenge me, then ask me to take you to not  great places. That  would be a hard challenge.

We drive over the Golden Gate Bridge down the hairpin, winding hill road to Muir Woods and the spectacular redwood forest there. This isn't city slicker territory. This is natural majesty incarnate. We walk along mostly in reverent silence which I make no attempt to break. She's the one who speaks - and when she does, it's in short bursts of "Wow!"s and "Oh my!"s and "Gee!"s as she points to the woven firmament of branches impossibly high overhead. As we walk I let go of her hand so she can have her own experience totally to herself, an experience I get just by walking at her side, looking at what she points to, getting a sort of no-contact contact high.

In response to her "I'm famished after all this hiking", we walk back down the path and over to the concession store. The fare's plentiful yet pretty basic: machine coffee, sodas, refrigerated sandwiches etc. Then I hear  something, a calling, and that's when I say "Hey you! Can I interest you in some real bungers 'n mush  for lunch, lass?" (that's the English "bangers and mash" aka sausage and mashed potato, pronounced with it's authentic accent). "You're kidding me" she says. "Where you gonna find bungers 'n mush in these woods, lad?". "Ah, follow me" I say, boldly gesturing towards my car in the rustic parking lot about a quarter mile away. "We're going to the Pelican Inn.". "The Pelican what?"  she asks, leaning her head on my shoulder, her arm around my waist. "Shhh! I'll drive. You'll see" I smile.

Photograph courtesy Pelican Inn
Pelican Inn, Muir Beach, California, USA
I've been coming to this magical place since it first opened in 1979, almost as long as I've lived in these United States. The first home I moved into after immigrating from Fiji in 1977 is a few short miles from here. Over the years, I've discovered this place, then rediscovered it, then discovered it again. It comes into my life and then it goes away  - as if under its own volition ie all by itself. When it goes away, it stays away for months, maybe years. And now suddenly, spontaneously  the Pelican Inn, this English country pub incorrigibly located in (ie transplanted into) Marin county's Muir Beach, comes back into my life again calling to me to come home to it ... all by itself.

After lunch we sit outside on the stone steps nursing half pint mugs of ale. It's a grand tradition in this bucolic environment, and it makes for great conversation. Who doesn't feel comfortable in a place like this? It's arguably even more inviting on a blustery winter's day as you warm yourself inside by an open log fire playing darts and sipping beer while listening to the driving rain playing staccato on the window panes.

She says how great the place is, how it offers a great experience, to which I counter (after a moment of silence for emphasis) "Perhaps it's you who's the source of your experience, for which this place is at best simply its background like a movie set.". "Hmm!" she says demurely, almost dismissing me, leaving me wondering if she got it.

And then I see her eyes lock on to something je ne sais quoi  in the middle distance, and she pauses, looking back at me, starting to ask a question, then stopping pre-sentence, her face suddenly lit up and beaming. She says nothing as her head nods up and down in a silent "A-Ha!". "She does  get it" I think to myself. It's these moments which are the best. It's these moments which are priceless. They're the moments when people get it by getting it  ... and no further explanation is required.


I'll Be Back Soon



We drive home over the hairpin, winding hill road past the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in a profoundly contented silence. Eventually she speaks. "You should bring me here more often" she says. "Do you mean the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center or the Pelican Inn?" I ask. "The Pelican Inn" she says. "It's very special. It's awesome. I really got  what it is to be source there.".

"You know" I say, "it's a very special place for me too. I've been coming here for nearly forty years and it never misses. But the thing is it's really not the Pelican Inn which leaves me in awe. It's the experience of being source  which is so awesome. And I can re-create the experience of being source any time and any place I want to. Places like the Pelican Inn and the Green Gulch Farm Zen center are high on my list of favorite places to be whenever I happen to re-create being source. But they're really just the background for it ie they're really just the movie set. If you're at all  confused that they're  the source of your experience, you actually dishonor them and yourSelf and  your experience.".

That's when I see that "look" in her eyes again, that look when her eyes lock on to something je ne sais quoi  in the middle distance, and I realize what it is ie I realize what she's doing, is she's inquiring into it for herself. She's not simply taking my word for it. She's checking it out for herself.

"My type of gal" (my type of person actually) I mull as we crest the hill and begin the descent into Tam Valley.



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