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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where did I get my eyes? May, 2008: Ithaca, NY

I guess we form our viewpoint of the external word based on our interactions during our formative years. At least that is in line with current psychosocial developmental theory. My views were bedded in family values which included weekly attendance at a Catholic church, a parochial education at Catholic schools, and a firm independent life style. My father was self employed, with an overwhelming work ethic. It was difficult for him to cease working even under medical orders to rest easy. I came from a large family that, although we had bitter rivalries, bonded together during adversity often of a financial nature. Our family was regarded as middle income, but it often felt lower depending on economic conditions in my dad’s business.
The most memorable parts of our weekly visits to church were slight readings from the Gospels. During my teenage years, I performed alter boy service, which formed in me a distaste for liturgy. It did give me opportunity to sit in front during sermons and gospel readings. Additionally, from this vantage point I could keep an eye on all the attractive young women in the congregation. I was put off by Paul’s church message that denied us accessibility to natural physical attractions. There was an undercurrent hinting church authorities were not living up to these teachings. Later it became apparent that other religious bodies also had difficulties living up to these principles. On the other hand, I was taken by Jesus’ message that affirmed the value of a materially poor life style. His message also contained elements that turned from worldly authorities, but also offered a strong moral code. Core to his teachings was the message that we, “Do unto others as we would want them to do unto ourselves.” Unfortunately, church sermons, immense wealth, and treatment received during school exposed hypocrisy. This rooted in me skepticism and strong urge to find a society that exhibited a way to life embodying elements of Jesus’ point.
By the time, I graduated from High School, I developed a similar skeptical attitude about worldly governments, mostly our own. This was enhanced by the shooting death during my senior year of John F. Kennedy and subsequent unsubstantial investigation and lingering doubt about government and media veracity. During the early summer of 1964, I was sailing on a maiden cruise of a wooden sailboat my dad built. On board were four people--my dad, new owner, sail maker, and I. As we cruised out into the Gulf of Mexico, I relaxed on deck, while the men sat in the cockpit having pleasant conversation. A topic sprang up that gathered my attention. The sail maker announced, “ Our country is going to be at war within a year.” He based his idea on the increase he received for orders of military canvas goods, similar to what occurred before WWII and our Korean incursion. At that point, I could not see any situation that demanded a war response. However, within two months the Gulf of Tonkin incident was sprung upon us. My skepticism about worldly governments only increased my desire to seek and find that kingdom Jesus spoke of as “not of this world.”
During the later 1960’s while embroiled in the Viet Nam incursion, our own country was in turmoil, cities burning, people clamoring for social redress, and an overall dissatisfaction with our institution’s ability to take corrective measures. It almost seemed that any attempts to right matters only aggravated the problems. It seemed the only solace occurred in the alternative underground society that flourished on social fringes. This sub culture was termed hippie. Hippies embodied many of the principles found in varied spiritual teachings, including those of Jesus. Their culture was characterized in media for its drug use, open sexual conduct, and glaring lack of obedience to worldly authorities. In the meantime, it provided the best example of folks carrying out the principles contained in the Golden Rule. It very much felt like what can be imagined as early Christian life, attendant with persecutions. The most appealing characteristic of the counter culture was its openness. Yes, it had failures and moral lapses, but they were not denied and dealt with in a refreshing transparent manner.
By 1970, the counter culture came under assault to try and bring it into line with dominant culture. This attack was carried out at first as a financial battle. There had sprung up a preponderance of free stores, where counterculture elements distributed goods and services gratis. There was also a sharing of talents often without charge or at least for barter. This economic system fell prey to capitalism. Intentionally developed market forces created, “Hip Capitalism.” All of a sudden, the underground culture had market value. Coincidental with this, inflation was making it necessary to come up with increasing revenues just to obtain basic necessities. No longer could free culture stand next to inflationary forces. Around this time a back to the land movement began. Largely this could be interpreted as an attempt to further get away from main stream economy. By the mid 1970’s the underground culture was largely absorbed into the mainstream and small pockets of that free spirit movement were becoming scarce.
It is thus likely, my journey was prejudiced with a goal of trying to seek the remnants of such communities. And my eyes may have been using glasses that tended to make the world I viewed seen in such light. Taken as such, unknown to me, my task may have been to record the demise of the last of the Christians. That slant is with me today, as I believe I am witness to the apocalyptic vision that has held and increased during my life time. No matter the congregation, talk about prophecies of world’s ending, be it “The Apocalypse of John” or stories from other cultures have dominated conversation. Today it has spread further than spiritual communities and appears in scientific and economic communities.
This little sojourn into my psycho-social-spiritual formation provides a hint at the slant I present while reporting my travels during a time I believe begins the unraveling of the our world. I provide this so that as I pour out my stories, the reader may have a glimpse into the significance they hold for me.


1 comment:

Karen said...

Rob: Thanks for the 'story within the story' that makes understanding more complete. The incidents, encounters, challenges during your journey are interesting; however, your musings and motivations bring added relevance to the story. Please intertwine the two together.
Love, Karen

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.