I just finished doing a series of checkerboard damascus patterns.  I now have several billets that are 1 x 1 square and 2×2 inches. These will form the theme for a blade using some random pattern damascus to surround the various sized checkerboards after I do a four way weld.  However, while I am hoping the final blade is turns out like I intend it to, I am also reflecting on how far the art of the forged blade has come. Damascus now is this rabbit hole of ever evolving lines, circles, manipulations of the steel to produce something unique and different.  In contrast everything else in my life is a quest for simplicity. I live a fairly quiet life apart from the university. I walk among these tall trees that I planted on my 10 acres of land twenty years ago. In early mornings when the sun is just coming up I walk with my dogs through the property breathing in the smells and listening to some of the early spring birds calling out their names. I stop often on the walk to just breathe. This morning was just warm enough that the tips of some of the trees carried a drop of unfrozen frost waiting to fall with the slight encouragement of the wind. And then the first beams of sunlight hit one of these little water drops and I could see a prism of color. Simple and complex. Beauty that will be likely gone in minutes. My life as a teacher is taking the complex and making it simple for others to understand and build upon. My life at the forge with damascus is exploring complexities and visually making what might seem simple appear complex. Somewhere in these contrasts lies a simple answer.