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, May 26, 2008

Reflections on a quarter. May, 2008: Ithaca, NY

I have been telling a story that unfolded over thirty years ago. I shall take a break from spilling this tale and instead reflect briefly upon it. The period between Leaving Mardi Gras and the second leaving from the Florida Keys lasted about three months or quarter year. Times were unsettled. The country had swallowed but not digested the culmination of its prolonged brutal military engagement in Southeast Asia. Additionally, sweeping changes were being snuck into our financial system. Our government had moved us off the silver standard and resulting inflation was making it impossible to fly under the IRS radar. Roads were filled with individuals, families and autonomous groups that seemed intent upon existing outside the dominant social structure. Just as apparent, the rules of social order seemed intent upon forcing all to be included in its fold.
It seemed that by staying on the move, a large diverse contingent was finding a way to exist outside the prevailing social fabric. This party also seemed intent upon finding a way to live that precluded it from inadvertently becoming the beast it was trying to avoid. Many sojourners thought themselves gypsies, pilgrims, early Christians, but to a large extent would avoid identifying as such. Singer Jackson Browne seemed to have described it when he called the roads filled with homeless souls with no idea where they are going, but will help you if they can. Taking this journey to gather story made me part of it. I was hardly just an outside observer reporting on my witness. Instead, I sprang into relationships with those I was engaged with on my journey. In the past several months, I had come to rely on strangers for support and was given opportunities to help others.
In the background spiritual elements seemed engaged in the struggle that had been introduced to most of us in our church’s and culture’s tales, myths, and legends. Shortly before I began my journey, a young woman I met in a Subway store in Saint Catharines, Ontario introduced me to the concept of “mark of the beast” as contained in Revelations. I had not heard that tale previously. However, it seemed to have a large focus in both the traveling and settled world. Other tales and spiritual themes wove thru society. Not all were based on the Christian story, others were present. But a prevelant theme seemed to involve how we treat and relate to each other and our earthly home.
Many substances, later termed “substances of abuse,” were wide spread during this time. It almost seemed that those who provided aid to travelers were not adverse to using such substances. It was difficult to tell whether those not giving aid to travelers would use substances; the main assumption is they were not. In reflecting on this story, I will try as best I can to be objective. That is difficult when I was so much part of the tale. I will try to achieve balance by exposing the viewpoint and cultural lens, I draw on to examine this journey. Briefly, I used substances, had a Cathoilic school education, and had separated myself from this country by resisting the Viet Nam war. I began my journey by accepting amnesty granted to US Army deserters and was motivated to travel about seeking and promoting healing from sundry war wounds. I will spend a day reflecting before writing it down. Afterward, I will go back to unpacking my tales.


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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.