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

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A different passage, October, 1975: Columbus OH

While hitchhiking around the country, I heard many tales told as a means of giving advice, often with a negative slant. A common one warned that Columbus, Ohio was vigilant about prosecuting those caught hitchhiking. It would certainly mean a spell in jail. Additionally, anyone caught without money, would be charged with vagrancy. I accepted these stories but resisted internalizing them, as I felt it was possible to have a different and positive experience. This fall it came to pass and I had such a dissimilar experience. I left St. Louis and headed to Toronto.

This meant I had to pass Indianapolis, Dayton and Columbus Ohio. I arrived in Columbus late at night and seeing it was drizzly and cool, spent the night in the “bridge hotel.” This was a fond term given to the concrete shelf under a bridge overpass that was large enough to accommodate a couple of folks and their gear. Early next morning I awoke to a clear but decidedly frosty day. It was Sunday and hardly any traffic. To stay warm, I walked along the highway, not seeing many chances for a ride. Eventually a car pulled over for me. I got in and recognized the uniform of an officer of the law. He was heading to work as a dispatcher in the local station house and dropped me off at his exit. In the time it took to walk from the exit ramp to the entry ramp, not a single car passed. As soon as I got stationed at a good place to thumb, the first car approached and stopped-- a police cruiser.

The officer motioned me to get my belongings and get into his car. He asked for my ID and called in the particulars. I heard the voice on the radio ask, “Is the suspect wearing gray overalls and a plaid jacket?” That exactly described my garb. I did not like the sound of the word suspect. But he answered, “Affirmative, that’s him. I‘ll give him his coffee and take him out of here.” He handed me a fresh go mug and we took off. Evidently he had been dispatched to be my Guardian Angel and St. Christopher. He informed me he could only take me to the edge of his patrol area and not all the way around Columbus to where I-77 headed north to Cleveland.

He let me off right in front of the landing strip for Columbus airport. There was still hardly any traffic. While, I was standing admiring a plane landing, I noticed something blowing across the highway. I went out and picked it up -- a bumper sticker that read, ”Support your Capital City Police.” I felt that a good sentiment and tucked it into my pack. No sooner had I closed up my pack when my next ride, another police car, stopped. As he was checking me out, I proudly showed him my recent find. He quickly informed me that was not his department, but one downtown. Nevertheless, he offered to deliver me the few miles to where I could be certain of getting a ride to Cleveland and if I was lucky Buffalo. When he let me out, I thanked him and Providence that had helped me skirt any trouble getting around Columbus.

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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.