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, April 25, 2009

Credible Threats

I awoke this morning with a phrase ringing through my mind. That phrase was “credible threat.” As my day proceeded I incorporated this phrase into my thinking. First, I wondered about squandering of resources and energy combating fears that posed no real peril, but could likely be termed incredible threats. Then I wondered what is the most sure threat I can imagine. In my memory, it seems highly likely that random events continually occur that present clear and immediate danger. These strikes seem to come without warning and pay no heed to time or space. Large events that sprang to mind included assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK and countless others, both within and without our borders. Next I pondered the random mass murders that seemed to occasionally pop up on campuses of our educational institutions. My earliest memory was the University of Texas Tower shootings conducted by Charles Joseph Whitman on August 1, 1966, concluding with his own shooting death at the hands of the Austin Police.
Almost in a regular way since, we have been visited by other outbreaks of random violence directed at our schools. Sometimes these have been at the hands of an individual, at others part of a conspiracy of a few. More than once we have witnessed violence perpetrated by organized hired hands of the state. I think of the Kent State massacres conducted by the Ohio National Guard and other violent intrusions of campuses by police and organized militia and not only within our borders. In 2004, Russian security forces stormed a school in Beslan where over one thousand hostages were being held. This military type intervention resulted in over 385 deaths. It is difficult to tell which is the most believable danger, the random outbursts or the reactions to them. In any event, anyone in attendance could perceive a realistic peril in the form of bullets whizzing by.
These outbreaks have spread out into other segments of our society. None of our institutions or establishments seem safe from this scourge. We have observed outrageous actions popping up during proceedings held both publicly and privately. Large scale attacks have occurred at business, cultural, religious, and sporting events. Assaults using military type ordnance have been visited upon even small family celebrations. Often responses to these acts of violence resemble commando operations and lead to further carnage and bloodshed. As a result society as a whole is exhibiting behaviors and symptoms that if observed in individuals would lead to a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Individuals may become infected with PTSD after either experiencing or witnessing an event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others. Other criteria for this disorder are recurrent and persistent recollections of the disturbing event. Society may be inflicting itself with a type of this malady by virtue of bombarding the public with repeated graphic scenes of these traumatic actions by the media. In my memory, I can see both the moment that a sniper’s bullet struck John Kennedy‘s neck and the grimace on the face of his alleged shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald as Jack Ruby shot him in the stomach. These scenes whirl through my mind along with countless others of conflicts stretching from then till now. Prints detailing all these graphic scenes of violent death would take volumes. I am certain there are many folks in this world who have no trouble recalling the vivid image of a plane slicing through the World Trade Center. And this is only one of the images being stored in collective psyche.
If indeed we are inflicting ourselves with psychological distress due to overexposure to internal or external cues that resemble an aspect of traumatic events, then we can expect our reactions to be similarly disordered. Even innocent events can take on the appearance of credible threats. This in turn evokes responses that are overwhelming and inappropriately threatening. We are showing a marked pattern of reaction to many events as if they were genuine terrorization.
This makes responses overwhelming displays of authentic threats. Examples are police shootings of unarmed suspects, the overpowered raid on Mount Carmel Compound in Waco, Texas and even the large military operation to catch a few guys hunkered down in caves in Hindukush. I suppose, if I was a tribal person living in that area, I would feel my skies patrolled by Predator drones a credible threat. It can be easy to see this leading to an ever increasing cycle of violence. And in this scenario, it makes sense, a villager would take sides with whatever could offer security, even if this means an increase in brutal action. Where is the solution to this maddening state of affairs?
Perhaps, we have to look in diverse places for an answer. Since any reaction seems guaranteed to continue the cycle, a pattern of inaction may be called for. This brings to mind Scriptural remedies that suggest evil will fall of its own accord. Many traditions teach the value of sitting still midst the storm as a sure way to ride it out. Seafarers know that panic reactions can only lead to disaster. Accordingly, brushfire fighters learn the value of letting fire consume itself, meanwhile, lighting backfires to remove fuel. Even the Beatles suggested the answer in their popular tune, Let it be, “ and in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be, Let it be. ‘”
Since, this solution suggests we act contrary to our psychological state and adverse to popular reaction, what is needed is Faith support. I envision a body of folks who hold one another up in Love and Peace, lest we stumble into reaction. In this way we can be witness with one another that indeed, Wonders and Miracles will arrive in the nick of time.


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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.