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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rocks: A New Way of Looking at Change

"Trees cannot deny the effects of a forest fire. Rocks do not try to hide the smoothness that results from the relentless pounding of waves upon them. Icebergs do not feign being untouched by the rising temperatures of our planet." Chani Nicholas

I read this line just days after crashing my knee into a rock that looked very much like the one above, except pointier. At the time I read it, I didn't have much love for rocks, let me tell you.

But, as someone who has done a lot of reflection about trees (TouchingTrees, anyone?), I realized that I've probably spent far too little time reflecting on those things that I've often taken for granted...or even cursed, as in the case of landscape rock or rocks that trip me while hiking.

This was quite the epiphany for me: Rocks gain their shape and their character by endless exposure to wind and water. They get rock-wrinkles from the trauma they endure. They split and they crumble, and yet some remain solid and unmoveable. In so many ways, they are metaphors for the tumbled existence we all have.

The tree metaphor is a great way to describe flexible reactions to change. Trees bend in the wind, they experience seasons, they grow, and they lose limbs. They whisper and they cry. Some scientists even say they communicate with each other through neural pathways connected by their roots.

Rocks, provide a different metaphor for change. Rocks endure. Rocks reach with patience, and a gradual acceptance, towards change. In some situations, rocks are the epitome of zen--they are in oneness with all that goes on around them, however it may shape them.

Unless they are smashed, of course. Then they react swiftly and decidedly and serve a different narrative. The rocks that break on impact, that disintegrate into sand...those rocks are proof that trauma can create something new and unique.

When we have troubled relationships, applying a metaphor to our situation can be really helpful. As you are in the middle of upheaval, thinking of yourself as a tree bolsters your trust in the ability to bend without breaking, to recover and grow. After a difficult time that's, perhaps, left scars or lasted for a very long time, it may be helpful to think of your changed essence as the smoothness caused by enduring through trouble or the newness caused by tremendous impact.

We're entering a season that brings us outdoors more than at other times of the year. The next time you have a moment to reflect, see if you can find a rock whose story seems to be like your own. Maybe it's one that's been worn smooth, or one that's grown cracked, or even one that's gained beautiful and sharp edges. 

Feel free to share your rock story in the comments below or email me at I look forward to hearing from you!

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