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, July 29, 2008

Getting back to Joe. August 1990: Atlanta, GA

Joe had returned to Atlanta from his excursion to Denver while I was taking a break in the Northeast. He had a memorable time especially the long train trip. He enjoyed that kind of travel and had not been able until now to make a lengthy excursion in that mode. It seemed though he wore himself out. He looked pale and haggard and although full of fond memories and load of pamphlets and flyers, it seemed this trip took a lot from him. For sure, he had missed his regular appointments for medical checkups and treatment. It occurred to both of us he may be entering the last leg of his journey in his struggle against AIDS. His mood likewise suffered. His bad days overtook his good ones. Not only was it difficult for him but also for those nearby.
I was perhaps the closest by virtue of living with him. Joe had always been fiesty and combative. It seemed his nature. He learned early to lash out at anything he perceived as threatening. He balanced that with a soft and generous side. The scales seemed to be tipping toward the negative as his disease progressed. Another aspect that may have entered the equation was onset of dementia. This is a strange illness in that it shows up in off hand ways and is difficult to clearly diagnose absent any concrete measurable symptoms. But at times something would seem off kilter. I can only imagine what it may have been like in Joe’s shoes. After all, he was the one who was facing perhaps the end of his life while all the while experiencing a decline in quality of life. I was only the outside observer.
I do not know if it was dementia or something else but an example of how something small could become odd with no clear reason could provide an example of how things were being faced. Besides physically feeling ill, Joe was facing financial difficulties. In this area he had always been adept at juggling the most balls with out mishap. How that his income was nil and expenses the same he had trouble keeping the same balls aloft. His truck had a damaged tire that while still holding air was unsafe and would not pass a coming vehicle inspection. It took him most of the day to find a dealer who could sell him a new tire for just about the balance Joe had in his checking account. I followed him to the dealer and gave him a ride home. Later when we went to pick up his truck the tire had not been changed but the truck had received a shampoo. Now we had a truck that looked good but would not pass inspection. We went round and round over this trivial matter and I felt hard pressed to make peace with Joe’s decisions.
My task was to try and stay calm, clear and collected while providing care for someone I loved who appeared to be on a down ward slope with little chance of turning that around. Joe had very little energy left for even smallest household tasks and this may have bothered him a lot, since he had always been active at cleaning and tidying his surroundings. He took most pride in how well he maintained his yards. He loved planting and caring for his vegetation. In the fall he would plant profusely with pansies. In Atlanta they would bloom all winter providing color when most of the world was turning bleak. It was falling more upon me to care for the landscape. I found work with my hands in the garden provided a sense of grounding that helped me maintain a positive attitude in care giving. Perhaps part of his legacy was to instill in me a penchant for working outdoors on my hands and knees digging in the dirt when all else seems amiss. Since then I take my times landscaping and gardening, ,lawn mowing and raking, clearing and hauling in the yard in order to prepare myself to deal with any difficulties that may arise. Thank you, Joe; it works.


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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.