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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Living with AIDS. WInter, 1991: Atlanta, GA

I was not living with AIDS, but I was living with someone who was. The progression of the disease was not linear. At first glance when I saw Joe as we headed to Europe, I suspected his end was rapidly approaching. That was not the case. Aggressive medical treatments would snatch him back from brinks. Joe would waver between days of health and those of illness. His mood would swing according to his physical health. Sometimes the Joe I remembered would be present, other times someone else would show up.
Joe possessed an active persona. His lifestyle demanded that he juggle many balls. He seemed to thrive having as many things in the air as possible. Besides that, Joe showed signs of an anger edge. He was feisty and would fight for his way especially when he felt wronged. By education and training, Joe was an artist. He moved to Atlanta in the late 1970’s to pursue a career in graphic design. After setting in with a company he began working free lance. By the mid 1980’s he kept a finger in commercial art work along with buying and renovating distressed properties in neighborhoods that were revitalizing. Joe’s acquaintances came from the high powered professional commercial art world and the local community activist associations.
His most intimate connections also shared his disease. These connections were both a blessing and curse. Those facing sickness spent much effort trying to shore up each others spirits and maintain positive attitudes. In the meantime, reality would pervade whenever a member of the community succumbed. Death was an inescapable reality. When Joe was having good days he would joke and light heartedly refer to them as, “my final days.” But if he was not feeling well, he would slip into denial and talk about the possibility of a cure being found and somehow surviving. It seemed that positive thinking could not overcome bad feeling. It was only through medical interventions that Joe returned to upbeat feeling.
When he was feeling sunny, Joe could fully engage in doing the work necessary to maintain extensive rental properties. This included repair, renovation and remodeling of structures, dealing with city bureaucracies over matters of taxes, utilities, and licensing, and dealing with present or prospective tenants. But when Joe would slip down, he tended to stay in bed and spent most time on the phone. He used that tool both as an outlet and entertainment. For an outlet it served him as counselor and a place to expend bile that came from his inner rage. Woe to the clerk of an establishment that slighted him. Joe had an interest in railroads and spent hours calling railroad toll free lines and requesting information and schedules. He assembled quite a stash of railroad paraphernalia.
In the meantime, I had demons of my own to contend with. Living far away from a support system while being buffeted by all manner of negativity took it toll on my spirits. My mood could drift toward darkness that took on features of depression. I needed to figure out ways I could both offer support and find nurturance for myself. I found it difficult in this situation to build a local support community. I looked forward to being able to take a break and travel back home where I enjoyed many deep sustaining connections.


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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.