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at the center

the alchymista

we just got back from a month in santa fe.  every year we try to trade austin’s hottest days for the respite of santa fe’s summers.  i spent most of my hours in our herndon heald studio, which sits on the santa fe river at the foot of the sangre de cristo mountains.  it’s calm outside our studio – babbling water, rustling leaves, the crunch of the gravel beneath one’s feet.

but inside the studio, it’s buzzing -  machines humming, folks talking, music playing, everyone moving about.

herndon heald summers are marathons.  the world blurs as we race on.  i am reminded of the chaos that is so often in the middle of apparent stillness, the restlessness that can reside under ostensible calm: the storm at the center of the eye at the center of the storm.

the monsoon storms were magnificent this summer.  it was my daughter koruna’s first thunderstorms.  she said ‘hi’ to the thunder.  she said ‘hi’ to the rain.  she has just turned one and says ‘hi’ to everything - to the raspberries in the yard, to the bird as he flies by, to the morning moon as she makes her way across the sky.

her greetings are not casual; they are invitations to engage.  the ‘hi’s actually sound as if they might be a response more than an initiation. one morning on a hike i found myself addressing objects in this way and discovered that i like the subtle shift in viewpoint.  saying ‘hi’ to the trees allowed me to feel a kinship.  it required me to pause and to find the calm in me that recognizes the calm in them.

it seems fitting to greet the wind, the stars, the water in the land of the pueblo indians.  but i wondered how the conversation would translate to my austin life.  i now say ‘hi’ to my studio when i arrive in the morning.  i greet the pile of dishes in the sink before i wash them and the beans as i pour them into the pot.  it alters things for me.  it alters me.