Farewell the Well : Remembering My Mentor Emmett Hutchins

I’ll never forget arriving in Hawaii for the first time to start my training in 2000. I  was 22 at the time, and a great many parts of my life were in flux. I got lucky on a stock and made almost to the dollar my tuition for Structural Integration school, and a couple of months from deciding to go I woke up on a tropical island, further away from home than I had ever been.

Everything was new and weird, especially the people. Bodyworkers are a unique bunch, and coming from the hills of Duanseburg, I hadn’t met anyone like my new class mates and the staff of the school before.

School was on Kahuna Road, in Kapaa and a interesting little micro village that had a meeting house and several places to stay circling an ancient volcano. I was up well before dawn because of my excitement and the time change and it seemed to take forever to get the first day underway.

Finally, this red Cadillac rolls up. Everybody kind of hushes and Richard (Emmett’s long time partner) step out of the driver seat and immediately warms everybody up. He is saying hi, and pointing things out and hugging everybody. A few moments later, Emmett got out and while I didn’t place it at the time he looks exactly like Yoda. Emmett has a warm, kind face, big smile and bright knowing eyes. He elegantly moves his way into class and acknowledges each of us but doesn’t really talk to anybody.

That first day of class I felt way over my head. I was sure I made a huge mistake and I had no idea why all these crazy people loved Emmett so much. He seemed like a nice guy, but everybody treated him with an uncomfortable reverence. I could tell very quickly that he was the master of this trade. There was no mistaking it, he knew something, maybe a lot of things and he didn’t seem to be in any rush to tell everybody. It’s hard to explain, but Emmett was compelled to teach, and seemed to resist it at the same time. What came out felt very important, like each sentence was a diamond dug from tons of rock and it just sprung forth from the ground.

That experience in Hawaii would be the beginning of a wonderful and delightfully scenic journey for me, one that I’m still on and I feel like I’m perpetually just beginning. I’d make life long friends during this training and Emmett and Richard (God rest both your souls)  would become two people I’d look up to and admire for the rest of my days.

The Hawaii training was magical and opened many doors. My Colorodo training would be work, and I’d learn that this job is both of those things. You can’t have the magic without the hard work to hold it up. While I loved Boulder, I needed to learn how to learn. I’d not gone to college at this point in my life (I saw the need in Hawaii and had enrolled shortly after returning from Colorodo), and my framework for critical learning would be formed at Structural Integration school and mostly from Emmett. I learned to be inquisitive, questioning and  skeptical as I saw that blindly moving forward or pretending you knew what you doing without a plan did not work.

I also learned to have faith, faith in the Recipe, and faith in the Line. These are the two pillars on which the work is developed and Emmett never veered off course. Our job was to make the Recipe come alive, and it has to happen though us the practitioner and the client.

Emmett was famous for saying “Ida used to say” or “Ida always said”. He had a green book with tons of hers sayings written in it that he read before class ended each day. It was kind of alike bedtime story meditations. “Put things where they belong and make them work.” “Where you think it is it aint!”

While a bit unusual, I had Emmett for both my training’s. Often students have a different instructor for their Auditing and Practitioner phase. I’d find other teachers to work with over the years, and different perspectives are important. But I was very happy to have Emmett as a teacher, a leader and mentor.

It took me nearly ten years to get back to Hawaii after my first training. When I finally did go back I went every other year as suggested until my wedding this February that happened to dovetail a workshop there. Emmett could not attend the union unfortunately as he had a medical emergency and had to be flown over to Maui that morning. Little did I know I’d not see him again.

All of this background is to frame a picture of the role Emmett played in my life. He has been there in the background for nearly all of my working life, and always in my mind. Always there guiding me, always there leading me on.

Emmett was the source of the work for me. He trained directly with Ida Rolf in the late 1960’s. He was a computer engineer and silicon valley at the time and like me had the work done and became interested in it. To hear him tell it, after his training Ida took an interest in him personally and groomed him as a teacher, a role that he would play for nearly 50 years.

Emmett seems to embody wisdom. He always seemed old even though when I look back now he was probably only in her early sixties when I first trained with him. He may have seemed old but very alive, bright and vibrant. I got the feeling he was never going to die, and I remember him saying on more than one occasion he planned to live past 100. I suppose we all do in some way. He looked a little like Yoda, and I always like to think of him like that. Sort of alone and secluded in some far away place. Quiet and unassuming if you saw him on the street but a Jedi under his Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses.

Emmet was a brilliant man, and could share and talk for hours on end without getting dull even for a moment. He had a way of capturing your attention and painting a picture of what he was talking about. His lectures were simply never enough, but you felt so full and complete after you just wanted to sit somewhere and digest them…. or go surfing. It was really wonderful to train on Hawaii.

Emmett had two partners with Richard and Wayne. Richard passed a couple years ago and seeing Emmett shortly after that I saw a man who lost a partner of 40+ years. He poured himself into the work and teaching in a way I’d never seen before. Good thing he still had Wayne and his unique powers. The three of them were an amazing group, and people I’ll admire until my dying day.

Emmett was know for his robust work, but he was also incredibly sensitive, gentle, and accepting, forgiving and most of all empathetic. He could put himself in another person, mimic their body language and try them on. I don’t know how I can explain it, but you’d watch him look at someone, and he’d sort of become them. He’d know them. On more than one occasion he whisper something into my ear while he was working on my, and it was my story, my narrative and he knew it. By understanding you, I always felt that I could let go. Another thing that’s hard to share in words, but Emmet took the work to a transcendent place. He really knew how to work on the person as a whole.

I always felt like I wanted more of his work. No matter what he did, he was catching you falling, and it just seemed right. I’ll forever be grateful for feeling his work and having him as a teacher and mentor.

We’ve lost a great one, the White Night. I appreciate this outlet as a way to grieve and share some thoughts. I’m going to begin a series on Emmets teaching in his honor from recorded classes and notes I’ve taken over the years. Emmett will always be alive in the hearts, minds and hands of all those he touched in his life. Rest in peace my beloved friend. You’ve earned it.