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, June 7, 2008

Reflections on the journey. July, 1975: Albany, NY

As soon as I exited the ferry boat, I captured a ride directly from Woods Hole Massachusetts to Fort Lee New Jersey. A couple of weeks ago traveling in the other direction , I was deposited on the other side of George Washington Bridge. This side was the same: there was no good place to position my self to thumb a ride. In both cases the solution was to walk away. This time, I headed up the west bank of the Hudson. Quickly I found a foot path that follows the upper edge of palisades overlooking New York City and Westchester. It was a good day for a hike and breaking in my sneakers. Additionally, the incredible vistas provided sitting places to ponder this journey from different vantages. Maybe it was the air, or maybe the heights but it seemed a good setting to mull over the spiritual dimensions of my pilgrimage.
I made a decision to begin this journey with no notions of what I would find. I believed I was open to gathering stories whatever they may be. At the time of leaving, I carried two volumes with me. I can only guess why I choose them, but my tome companions were “ King James Bible” and “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts. So I guess, I was not only peering at physical realms but also those of a spiritual nature. It is likely that by traveling lightly, I could have better access to where these kingdoms meshed. Traveling in the physical sphere provides allegory for roaming in other worlds. Both journeys provide forks in the road where decisions concerning which way to proceed must be made. Today’s reflection revolves around our spiritual relationship in family. Having just visited my family of origin, I was headed to another family--my wife and four year old daughter. I was leaving them both behind while conducting this search.
I was aware of Jesus’ message asking that we leave our families to follow him. Another of his statements admonished that if we could not leave our parents, siblings, and other family behind, we could not be worthy of the Kingdom. I was not certain of the meaning of this but was willing to turn from my blood relations to commence this journey. These are not straightforward or clear choices to make. For instance how far away from my family must I separate. At this time, there seemed a preponderance of spiritual communities vying for individual’s allegiance. Many of these also demanded that members separate from their families of origin. This brought into play another aspect of combining spiritual and material worlds. The main selling point of spiritual groups of people was that by joining, all material needs would be provided.
All that was asked was turn your back on this world and all this world could be regained. I remembered Jesus meeting the Tempter who offered him all that he could see if he but swore allegiance. Jesus famous response, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” I could not detect much difference with today’s groups offering all the desires of my heart should I swear loyalty to them. Some even used the Jesus name for their associations. But there were others, ranging from followers of Sun Myung Moon to cults whose leaders used the name of Christ. There were others whose leaders adopted the title Guru, Rinpoche or others of Eastern origin that denoted ascendancy above mere mortals. All these groups seemed to demand a commitment to their leader. By so doing, even to those using God’s names, I felt like I was being asked to have other god’s before Thee. These were the depth and breadth of my ponderings while I meandered and sat along the cliffs heading north from New York City. I preferred to rely upon Jesus’ message advising when we are presented with an offer to go somewhere to find him, “[sic] Do not go, that is where false prophets dwell.”
Having spent the larger portion of the day with these musings, I felt the urge to continue my travels. Getting to the New York Thruway , I joined company with another traveler. Andrew was on the road also. He traveled even lighter than I did, his only possession a worn bible. Andrew was adopting the task of following the teaching to take nothing for our journey, but to trust that he would be provided for. The refreshing thing about Andrew was he was not trying to sell me anything or get me to follow him. He was only on his journey following the guidance and beliefs that he held individually. It was after midnight when we were let off at the intersection of the New York Thruway with the Northway Extension. It was mild, dark and quit. I left Andrew and walked over a rise and found a large contingent of travelers gathered round a campfire, settling in for the evening. They offered to share with me some light fare and a place to rest. They did not demand my faithfulness or submission to a person or belief system. I choose to camp there for the night.


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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.