Welcome to Balanced Rocks: Pictures and Stories

Beginning March 16,2010, I began a journey of balancing rocks. I hold to the practice of setting to balance at least five sculptures a day, sometimes, many more. Of these I take lots of pictures and videos. While conducting this adventure, I have been introduced to an incredible unfolding story. Additionally, I discovered this phenomenon is manifesting worldwide. As I post pictures and stories, I found many others similarly engaged and sharing their works. Additionally, as folks come upon me performing my work, many want to find out how this is done and try themselves. This blog shares this work in both pictures and stories. Enjoy


A seeming impossibility becomes possible

Rock Balancing: The Beginning

On a fine summer day, sometime in August, 2009, I was visiting family in Toronto. Like most folks spending summer in a large city, we used up as much time as we could finding outdoor events that would cool us. One afternoon, we headed to the Beaches section of East Toronto. After spending some time playing in a large sandbox in the shade with my grandkids and some of their newfound companions, we headed to the Boardwalk that extends from Balmy Beach to Kew Gardens. Ella accompanied me, Liam took off with his mom, Natalie. They ventured down the boardwalk, Ella and I headed onto the sand toward the water’s edge. Halfway there we encountered what looked like a small size Stonehenge.

About a dozen sculptures were gathered together in a rough circle. Each was a stack of two or three rocks balanced one on another. The tallest one was slightly taller than Ella, who was small average height for a five year older. All were in the neighborhood of three feet and four feet tall. What immediately jumped out was the precarious nature of the balancing. Most points of contact were miraculously slight. Most seemed to be standing on a point. Two more folks were witnessing this amazing display. We imagined that there must be small metal rods embedded at the point of contact, or else some kind of glue was used. Each of us peered from close low angles to detect what could account for this mystical display. Ella, not being so cautious, toppled one structure over. Luckily, it did not land on her.

I hurried over and picked up the fallen rock. I saw no evidence of a rod or glue. It indeed had been balanced on its pedestal. I lifted it up and tried to place it back where I reckoned it had been balanced. I cautioned Ella, to be careful and not upset any more sculptures and went about the task of finding balance. I was not successful and struggled immensely but did not find the magic spot where stability could be achieved. After a lengthy effort, an attractive Asian woman about my age approached and gently nudged me aside offering to demonstrate her work. She pointed to the spot she would set the stone upon. She called it by a foreign name. To me it looked like a slight dimple.

Placing the small end of the upper rock into that hollow, she deftly and quickly moved it around, slightly twisting and cajoling it into position. The sight of this slender woman with longish graying hair performing an intricate dance with a rock slightly larger than her head emanated calmness. It seemed only the ends of her fingers were used to achieve these small movements. Apparently, equilibrium was close. Shortly she was done and withdrew her palms which naturally assumed an open prayer posture. The rock I had grappled with was majestically resting in its previous stable state. She next went over and reset two other structures, I had not noticed were also amiss. I just took them to be part of the rubble strewn about the beach. Now all the display was standing and providing a small sense of order in our chaotic world.

I never got this woman’s name, but heard her story. She had set this display up for the purpose of taking pictures, one of which she hoped to use for a cover of a book she was publishing. Unfortunately not getting her name makes it difficult to find her book. But I carried away with me the sight of her presentation and the incredible feeling I had witnessed an amazing ethereal event. I also felt an urge to explore this practice.

Rock in the Snow

Rock in the Snow
January in Toronto

Monday, March 31, 2008

God is my pilot, August 1966: Florence, SC

Perhaps the most fear-provoking aspect of relying on the benevolence of others for a ride, is when your pilot is heavily under the influence of alcohol. The first time this occurred, I was returning to New York from a summer semester at a Community College in Florida. There was no Interstate going up the east coast, so I was following the course of Highway 301. This was primarily a two lane road that began in Sarasota and would deposit me at the Delaware Bay Bridge leading to the New Jersey Turnpike. At around 3 AM, I was on the corner in Florence where 301 took a right and proceeded to the North Carolina border. Traffic was sparse and I felt grateful when a vehicle appeared, then stopped for me. Not too far into the ride, my gratitude turned to fear. My driver was an angry drunk.
As soon ,as we headed into the dark stretch of highway leading through the swampland before the border, he waved an almost empty bottle of whisky at me as a way of offering a drink. I declined. This launched a tirade about my lack of manners refusing a drink with him. Somehow, I managed to defuse this argument and we proceeded on. He next turned his anger at Chevrolet Automobiles for their building him a bad transmission, an example of which was on his back seat. He was returning from a stock car race, during which this example blew. He proceeded into the gloom as if he was still at the race. We soon were traveling well over 100 MPH. Luckily, except for a sharp left at Pee Dee, the road consisted of straightaways. Our ride was constantly punctuated by his stream of abuse directed at all the reasons he did not win his latest race. I was hoping we would succeed in this one.
A couple of times I would notice in the distance a set of tail lights most likely traveling at a much slower speed. Intuitively, I knew not to interrupt his focus on anger to point out this hazard. Here, I would ask whatever Influence he was under to maintain control and acknowledge none of it was under my control. It was terrifying to note I was only along for the ride as a witness. At close to the last instant, he would notice the other car, jam his brakes, curse at the other driver, veer into the passing lane, and proceed back to racing speed. I was unsure how I would exit from this ride. Eventually the lights of South of the Border appeared. This was a huge tourist establishment on the North-South Carolina border. Their road signs which seemed to stretch from Georgia to Virginia were characterized by a sombrero topped figure that repeated, “Pedro sez.” We slowed down, entered their parking lot, and my host announced, “Pedro sez, I got to take a leak.” I gathered my pack, thanked him for the ride, and wished him luck in his future races. We shook hands and parted. Whew.

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Blog Archive

About Me, Part One

My photo
Rock Balancing: The Beginning. What began as a journal of my travels took a hiatus when I began to settle in Ithaca NY. In the meantime, I took up the practice of setting rocks to balance. I returned to my blog to begin recording this story

Part, The second

On Easter Sunday Morning, 2008, I made a decision to settle in the Ithaca New York area. At the same time, I decided to continue to post my blog, However, the stories now will come from the archive stored internally. These will be the stories I gathered while on previous journeys and never entrusted to paper. The date of each posting will not reflect the date of the story being related but will mark the date that narrative got inscribed.

Carry wood

Carry wood
33 years later

Part: The third

I took a brief hiatus from my daily blog writing. I did not know the direction it would take. part of me thought I would abandon it. It turns out I missed it. The old title "On the Road Again' is no longer apt. It appears I am settling. The travel stories will age to a point, when I will probably resusitiate them and do something with them. I dusted off some old stories and begin this new series.
Thr first is one was written two years ago. I edited it and begin again a series that is more apropos to someone settling in upper New York State. They are meant to warm, amuse, educate and sometimes inflame.