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January 13th, 2009 · 12 Comments · Random Stuff

a perfectly balanced pile of rocksA week ago my family and I went to a local park. There is a dry stream bed that runs through the park, and we were walking along it exploring when we came across these rock piles. I was stunned. The photograph doesn’t really do them justice. I felt like I had just come across Easter Island. These rocks are stacked on top of one another. There are bigger rocks stacked on smaller rocks, and the joints are not flat but angled and precarious-looking at best. There is no mortar or cement holding them together, and no hidden steel bars running down the center. They are just perfectly balanced. Whoever created these piles was talented. We tried to make our own rock stack, with limited success (and one almost crushed foot). These amazing balanced rock stacks also proved to be ephemeral. A few days ago when I came up with the idea of writing this post, I went back to the park to get a better picture. The piles were gone. There were just random rocks strewn around the stream bed, and no evidence the piles had ever existed.

balanced stack of rocksLife is about Balance
Life is like these stacks of rocks. Life is about balance. One needs to balance work against spending time with family and friends. Of course one needs to make a living and put food on the table, but for what, if one doesn’t enjoy time with ones family or friends. Some of us have it easier than others. Some of us have the big heavy rocks at the bottoms of our stacks, others of us have the big heavy rocks at the tops of the our stacks. Life isn’t fair – it’s just life.

Life’s Balance is Percarious
No matter how balanced one may think their life is, their stack of rocks can be swayed, or worse, knocked over. You can lose your job of 20 years, you can be diagnosed with lupus, you can see your retirement fund lose half of its value when the stock market goes south… you can burn the chicken on the bbq, the milk for your coffee can be spoiled, or you can open the fridge and find there is no more Blue Beaver beer (ok, I thought I was getting a little too serious). But if your stack of rocks gets knocked over, you’ve got to stack it back up, and if it gets knocked over again, you’ve got to stack it back up again, and if that little punk hiding in the bushes knocks it over a third time, then throw one of the rocks at him and make sure you hit him. Life isn’t fair, but it’s what you’ve got.

Blogging is about Balance Too
Blogging is about writing posts on your own blog, and posting comments on other blogs, and writing new posts, and responding to comments on old posts, and knowing the proper balance between all of these things. It’s about knowing whether to write a new post, or whether to go for a hike instead. It’s about knowing whether to sleep in on a Saturday, or whether to get up and backup your blog and then write a new post. It’s about knowing whether you’re spending too much time online and not enough time with the real flesh-and-blood people in your life.

I don’t think I’m a “real” blogger yet
When I first started this blog, I would watch a movie and then focus my attention during the movie on whether or not I should write a post about it. Or I’d see a great play at my daughter’s soccer game and wonder if there was a blog post in it somewhere. Or I’d wonder if there might be a blog post in what we were having for dinner, or the call I got last night at 10pm. It seems that a “real” blogger should judge everything they do or see by if it could be the basis for a post. They need to constantly be thinking about that next post. But that’s not me, at least not at this point. When I saw these stacks of rocks, I never thought about writing a post about them. I was just awed. It was actually my wife that took the picture, and I’m glad she did. Because by the time I came up with this post idea and went back to get a new picture, the rock stacks were gone.

I’ll end this post with two quotes about life, one from James Dean, and one from the movie Braveheart (a most excellent, excellent movie).

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
~ James Dean (1931-1955)

“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.”
~ William Ross Wallace in Braveheart


12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Will // Jan 14, 2009 at 1:18 am

    You’re a real blogger Steve. No doubt.

    Unfortunately I have been there on the retirement fund example!

    But I have also had the fortune to come across some of these myself when hiking. I knew they are called “Cairns, but I did not know the story behind them or why people build them. They are not all that uncommon here in Oregon. Usually they are only a foot or two high, but your photo looks like the rocks are bigger and the cairns taller? Anyway I looked them up on Wikipedia:

    Interesting that you quote Braveheart as that seems to be the part of the world that cairns originated in.

    I don’t know if there is a modern day movement to build them or if it is just for fun. It would be interesting to know. I do know that they are almost always built on the summit of any mountain I summit. There are a few photos of those at the above link. In fact there was one at the top of Mt. McLoughlin, the peak in my photo last Wednesday. I imagine that gets rebuilt each summer as the winter storms up there would certainly know them over. My WW photo today is that same Mt. McLoughlin, taken Sunday from about 40 miles away. The top this time of year is burried in at least 30 feet of snow!

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 14, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    hi will,
    Thanks, and thanks for stopping by.
    I’m familiar with cairns (cool pictures at Wikipedia), and I’ve seen and made a few, but had forgotten about them when I wrote this. However, I think they’re different from these rock stacks. Cairns built in a triangular shape to be stable and to last as markers. These piles were built to impress people how delicately they were balanced I think, but not to be stable, and not as markers, and they certainly didn’t last.
    Now I’m off to check out your latest Wordless Wednesday picture…
    Thanks again for your comment! ~ Steve

  • 3 Lee (Tarheel Rambler) // Jan 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Steve, this is one of the best posts I’ve read in a while. And you are so right about the need for balance in all aspects of life. And you’re also right about how tenuous that balance can be at times.

    I think you’ve actually captured the true spirit of what blogging is all about. And I was right there with you when I got the bug a little over a year ago. Everything I did was viewed through the filter of what it meant to my blog. When I let go of that, and started writing and posting just what I was inspired to post at the moment, I think my blog improved. And I also think it’s what makes your blog a good place to visit.

    Again, excellent post!

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Lee,
    Compliments are always welcome here!
    Seriously though, you summarized my post brilliantly, which means you understood what I was saying. Thanks. Maybe I should have you write a few posts for me… 😉 ~ Steve

  • 5 Tim // Jan 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Hey, thanks for the link. I haven’t forgotten about explaining the chicken, either 🙂
    So you mean I’m supposed to think about blogging in my off time? Darn, I better get on that. I’m really sporadic on the main blog since I have a pile of them going now. Of course, The Redneck is just one part of my life, and like you said, every area needs attention.

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    hi Tim,
    You’re welcome.
    I was being tongue-in-cheek about being a “real” blogger. I think Lee explained perfectly how in the beginning we can get the blogging bug and view everything in life though the filter of “can I write a blog post about this…”, but when we go back to a state of “balance” and zen, our blogging actually improves (or at least we think it does)…
    Now about that chicken… 🙂 ~ Steve

  • 7 Mitch // Jan 17, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Steve, welcome to the world of the real blogger. This was a wonderful post, and you got it right, because you saw something that inspired you, and you wrote about it. That’s what blogging is all about. The pictures are amazing, but it does make you wonder who did it, why, and which kid (had to be a kid) decided to knock them down later (had to be a male kid).

    Everything in life is about balance. Some people aren’t balanced in their lives, and that causes consternation. With balance, we feel better, and we do better in everything, including blogging.

    Wonderful post; absolutely great stuff.

  • 8 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

    hi Mitch,
    Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I would bet it was kids that knocked the piles over, though it wouldn’t take much. I’m sure whoever built them knew they wouldn’t last (like building sandcastles on the beach at low tide, or making sidewalk chalk drawings at an outdoor art festival). I especially admire artists who will spends so much time creating something incredible but temporary.
    Thanks again! ~ Steve

  • 9 Master of the Philippines // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I have 4 brothers, 1 of which is younger. When we were young, we were always doing weird stuff like this just for the sake of doing. Once, when I lived in Hawaii, several of us (including a sister or two) climbed to the summit of a small mountain next to a sugar cane plantation. When we got there, we found someone had built a small rock structure next to a stream. We were amazed when we found a helicopter landing pad along the ridge.

  • 10 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    hi RT (aka Master of the Philippines),
    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the flashback. I have fond memories of summers during my childhood spent exploring, building tree forts, playing kick-the-can, and just being a kid. I guess I was lucky to have a very “balanced” childhood. 😉
    ~ Steve

  • 11 Mom On The Run // Jan 19, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Great post! Balance is definitely something I struggle with. That said, I need to go to sleep and balance my awake time with my sleep time 🙂

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  • 12 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    hi Janice,
    Thanks for stopping by. I could also use better balance between my awake time (which is usually working) and my asleep time. I always tell myself I can sleep tomorrow, but tomorrow never seems to come. 🙁 I guess I’ll have to wait for retirement, which given the market, might be a little further away now. 🙂 ~ Steve

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