Learning From Stone

Last summer, on a rocky beach, I watched a scruffy performance artist rapidly and repeatedly balance dozens of random rocks on edge.  He wasn’t using super glue, cement, sand, or dents in the ground.  The Rock Whisperer lifted awkward chunks of granite, irregular seastones, and lopsided boulders; rolled them around in his calloused hands, and then zenfully placed them point or edge down on the seawall.  The rocks did not spin, wobble, or fall.  Instead, they remained suspended upright like inverted stalagmites (see picture).

If anyone wanted to try this puzzle, he or she only needed a rock and a section of seawall.  So naturally, random bystanders took up the challenge.  With the steady cadence of a drill instructor, the Rock Whisperer repeatedly encouraged would-be stone-standers by slowly calling out:

“The stone will teach you what you need to know.”

“The stone will teach you what you need to know.”

“The stone will teach you what you need to know.”

He said nothing else.

Other than art, the Rock Whisperer was unknowingly teaching us something else:

If someone shows you, you will obtain confidence that the problem or puzzle can be solved.

If someone shows you, and teaches you, you will solve the problem.

If nobody shows you, and nobody teaches you, the stone can teach you what you need to know.  

In the absence of observation and instruction, athletes, writers, sculptors, artists, explorers, inventors, and the stone whisperer...can learn from nothing but the ball, the pen, the canvas, an instrument, a tool, the stars, the wind, a block of wood, or a simple rock.  

It has been said that some excel at observing, while others excel at processing instructions.

Seems to me now, that there are those that can learn from stone.