No Sticks, Just Stones…

I don’t know why, exactly, but stones have been in my thoughts all day today. I guess you could say I have rocks in my head…

My earliest recollection of collecting things involved stones. Like most little boys (I suppose), I remember always picking up stones, or looking for stones – a certain size or shape or color. I remember skipping stones across the still surface of the lake behind my grandparents’ house in Tennessee. I distinctly remember learning to drive at sixteen, accelerating a bit too aggressively and “laying a patch of rubber” in my parents’ gravel drive, spraying rocks and pebbles onto my father’s perfectly-manicured lawn. I also distinctly remember raking them all back out to the driveway, and then raking the driveway.

Even in my adult life, stones are a constant. Every day, stones stir up memories for me…

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In our living room, a squarish piece of gray granite sits on a shelf, a reminder of a trip I took to Europe almost twenty years ago. I liberated that stone from a huge stack of stones destined to become a section of a public sidewalk in downtown Berlin. In our kitchen, my beloved Martin has a “memory jar” from our trip to San Francisco in late May/early June 2012. There, amid sand from a beach, redwood needles from our day trip to Muir Woods and other odd bits and pieces of paper and ticket receipts, rests a tiny, pea-sized stone from the backyard of our friends, the friends who were our hosts for a week. Every morning, I look at a smooth river rock, much like the stones above, pilfered from a planter on a trip to Kansas to visit with my (at-the-time) best friends in the world more than a decade ago. That stone rests on a table in our bedroom. And it reminds me that, no matter how permanent things may seem, things can change.

I am not in contact with my Kansas friends anymore – I’m not sure why, although I have reached out many times by phone, email and snail mail, all to no avail. It makes me sad that we are no longer friends but I have done my best to find out why.

So why do I keep that stone when the memories it represents makes me sad? To be honest, that stone represents good memories for me of great friends; our relationship has faded but the good memories still burn brightly in my mind.

I keep that stone because it reminds me to live in the moment, to be present in life and to be thankful for every memory, every moment, as it happens. I understand now why people refer to others as their “rock,” and thank them their grounding presence. I just guess my “rocks” actually are rocks…

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