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

Friday, June 13, 2008

Turning around, January 1975: Lexington, KY

Yesterday, I had briefly been stopped by State Police in Athens, TN. Then I spent the night camped perilously close to the brink in Chattanooga. A kindly FBI agent who sprung me from lockup suggested I report to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis to settle my matters with the US Army. He suggested if I kept hitchhiking, I would constantly be hauled in and investigated for being a deserter. It would be advantageous to settle that matter and take advantage of President Ford’s amnesty call. Even though I was liking the warmer weather associated with heading south, I decided to be prudent and return back to wintry north. Heading back to the Interstate I ran into Ron who was also northbound. We seemed to have an instant bond and stood by the roadside wondering about our chances of getting a ride should we hitch together.
Before we could arrive at an answer a flatbed stake sided truck stopped for us. The driver pointed us to climb in the back. We joined several young folks huddled together to deflect the breezes springing up soon as we got under way. We joined in and found we were in the company of a Jesus community based in Chattanooga. They were openly friendly and invited us to come along with them. Today they were headed to a farm they owned and worked. Although they were pleasant, both Ron and I were heeding a different call. They arrived at their turn off rather soon and let us out with an invitation to return and join their community if ever we came back to that neighborhood. It seemed an enticing offer.
It took the rest of the day to get to Lexington, Kentucky. Here Ron introduced me to Sallie Ann. He learned the ropes in his travels and quite often availed himself of Salvation Army shelters for the homeless and suffering. I accompanied him and went through their registration process. The price of a warm meal and safe bed in which to sleep was an agreement to attend a prayer, lecture, worship session that lasted two hours after the meal. I could afford that so agreed to attend. I was put off by the feeling that there brand of salvation seemed to have a price--adherence to their program. It did not fit with my beliefs that salvation was a free gift, not a consumer product to be pushed at the unfortunate. Since I had paid my fees, I decided to spend the night and likely leave this life style to Ron.
They did provide a breakfast. I discussed with Ron, my feelings about Sallie’s program. He heartily agreed, but regarded pretending to go along with their program a cheap price for a meal and warm cot. In a material sense I agreed, but wondered what other unseen charges might occur. After breakfast the day program began. Men were ushered outside and admonished to go job seeking . They were not allowed admission to the shelter during the day. Mothers and homeless women, could stay inside and help with chores. Outside several men were milling about figuring where to head for the day. We were joined by a couple of woman who came outside to enjoy a smoke. One claimed to be an artist.
Melissa offered to sketch my portrait in a small pad I was carrying. It seemed a nice gesture and I agreed. Before she began, she stated that while concocting such work, she found it advantageous to hold a possession of mine while she rendered my features in pencil. The ruby ring I was wearing would suffice to serve this purpose. It took perhaps a half hour, to come up with a rudimentary likeness. While she worked, Melissa spilled out her story. Her two young children were inside. She managed to obtain a lengthy stay at this shelter and felt a permanent victim of life’s circumstances. There was hint that her solution would be to hook up with a man. There were plenty around, but no takers. I had nothing in the way of a solution for her. She managed to pry from me enough money to buy a pack of smokes. After she finished and handed back my sketchpad, she took leave and returned inside. I realized she still had my ring and I could not follow her inside to fetch it. I felt relieved the accursed thing had finally left me. I hoped it would not bring her harm. It did not feel worth hanging around to retrieve it, so internalizing a prayer for Melissa’s well being, I headed back to the highway toward Indianapolis.


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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.