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, September 21, 2008

Another Kind of Steam

Water that turns into steam when its temperature reaches the boiling point provides an analogy for other states of volatility. Apparently, human behavior has mimicked steam often enough that various phrases describing human behaviors have been introduced into English language. Examples are “I’m steamed up; I’m going to let off some steam; I’m just going to simmer; I‘ve reached my boiling point; or I‘m boiling over.” These are but a few that refer to human emotions, often anger, reaching an explosive state. This brief article will try to draw comparisons of the physical characteristics of steam to the less well known mechanisms that push human behavior.
I will give conjecture and a brief example from my experience in an attempt to analyze times when humans lose control and explode. One of the points that give rise to danger when dealing with steam is when there exists no pressure relief valve or when it malfunctions. . A similar danger may exist when humans try to bottle up and contain emotions that may produce pressure when not vented.
Just as steam relief valves vent extra pressure, humans have developed means to “let off steam. Two that come to mind are focused physical exertion to bleed off bottled up energy or calmness exercises that are designed to turn down the internal heat that builds stress. When these exercises are not in place or somehow not working, the danger of a human explosion comes to bear.
Like steam pipes that have gauges reading pressure and providing alerts that should be heeded, humans would do well to monitor their state in order to intervene upon an approaching angry outburst. Unfortunately human gauges are not as easy to read as mechanical ones. But usually with practice and helpful feedback, it may be possible to detect impending problems based upon precursor events unfolding. Of course, this assumes that a person is looking to curb violent outbursts. If they are not, it may pay those nearby to attend to reading the signs of looming pressure buildup so they may take appropriate evasive maneuvers. I hope that if I was near a pressure cooker that was showing sign s of going off, I could prepare an exit.
On incident that comes to mind, when I took this action occurred during a bout of cabin fever while living in rural Arkansas. I was not aware that being cooped up all winter can place inevitable pressure on human relations. I, Willow and her two kids had spent the whole winter cooped up with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, nor running water, and our only source of heat was a wood cook stove. There was certain romantic charm spending a winter in this gorgeous natural setting. However, probably neither of us regularly had pressure outlets, nor were we familiar with detecting coming flare-ups. One morning the pressure erupted.
My custom was to rise early, make a fire, and prepare a pot of coffee. Usually, I would sit enjoying my coffee, while waiting for Willow to arise and have breakfast and launch the kids off to school. One morning, Willow awoke in an agitated state. A heated discussion ensued. I remained in my chair holding my cup. At some point Willow placed her hand on my shoulder and started shaking it to make a point. She was unaware that her jerking my shoulder was spilling hot coffee on my wrist. I was suffering burns. When I exploded, I flicked the remainder of my cup up at her. It covered the front of her blouse. Fortunately she was not burned, but her pressure also reached explosive state.
Willow went over to the stove, picked up the whole pot of coffee and headed back to my chair. I saw her coming and detected a fit of anger in her stance. I sensed danger and automatically rose up and knocked the pot out of her hands and onto the floor. I rushed to her side and grabbed her in a bear hug, lifted her off the floor and carried her outside. There I remained in an embrace afraid if I let her go , we may start swinging at each other. In a few moments, pressure seemed eased, and I asked,, “If I let you go, can I go inside and get a few things, so I can get away for a day or so?” She agreed. Hastily, I gathered a small pack and walked down the road. Besides the small burns on my wrist, injury had been avoided. We both learned the necessity of not letting pressures build to unsafe levels. To this day, memory of that event provides me with an example of what may occur should I not attend to my pressure gauges.


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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.