My Rocks Need A New Home

October 17, 2010  |  journal entries

For years, I have been collecting rocks.

My mother and my sister who do astrological charts say it’s because I am severely lacking in earth elements. I used to always keep rocks in my pockets, to touch them, polish them with the oils from my fingers.

The beaches are covered in pebbles where I grew up, glacial pebbles, scraped clean and traveled through a river of ice to come down to be lapped and soothed by the tides. I used to stack them, or gather a bunch of white ones and make a spiral, or fill my pockets full when I went home for a visit.

Then, I started collecting them from places I visited. Central Park the first time I visited New York. the south coast of England where my dad’s girlfriend lives. Paris, Edinborough, Chicago, Ocean Shores in Oregon, New Orleans, the Jersey Shore, Japan, Arches National Monument in Utah.

And when friends went places, they started bringing me rocks back, too. Greece, El Salvador, India. if someone asked me what I wanted from somewhere, I would say, pebbles. beach rocks. Interesting rocks that show the land of a place.

Can you see where this is going?

I have a massive rock collection.

And now, I’m finding that my collections are shifting. Where I used to collect pins, matchbooks, key chains, I am now collecting sex toys, cufflinks, ties. I’ve always collected books; that continues. But my tastes are evolving. My grounding is evolving. I want and need different things surrounding me than I used to. I finally know what Things are useful in my life, because I’ve finally found a path, and I no longer wonder if perhaps one day I’ll get back to being a great jewelry maker, or greeting card crafter, or guitar player.

And after moving the rock collection across the country, and never really doing anything with it, just leaving it in a box after all these (five and a half) years, I’m thinking it’s time for them to leave my care and possession.

The problem is, I’m not sure what to do with them.

I used 180 of them for the keynote ritual in the Butch Voices NYC regional conference. I wondered, when I volunteered to use my collection, if I would have enough. 180 is a lot, right? But it barely made a dent in my collection. I had no idea how many rocks there were in that box, where I’ve finally consolidated all of them.

the rocks for the Butch Voices keynote ritual (and my cat)

I could take them to a beach, or a forest, and leave them there, but that seems … unfitting. Plus, most of the beaches and forests around here are not so full of beach rocks or pebbles, and it’d end up being an odd pile of rocks that clearly don’t belong. I could scatter them, I suppose.

I could donate them to a yoga studio or meditation studio or preschool.

They might be useful in a garden, especially the nice ones. But I don’t have a garden. I do know of some gardens around here, but I don’t know who runs them or how to get in touch with them. But I keep thinking they should go back to the earth, somehow.

What do you think? What can I do with this rock collection? Something creative, not too difficult, useful?

 

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19 Comments


  1. I'd say scatter them back to a beach or along a wooded path. Leaving them in playgrounds works as well.

    You could also leave each with a bit of love in your neighbors gardens or flower beds.

    Cheers,

    Todd

    @tojosan

  2. I wouldn't give them to a preschool! I'd bet on some of them being eaten.

    I think, as in the keynote ritual (oh I am so so jealous that I could not be there for any of the conferences), the really interesting part about them is the experiences they've absorbed. Maybe this is just my love for rocks talking here (I used to pick them up a lot too, but I didn't amass such a collection), but that'd be a really neat thing to give away to people, in little handfuls or something. "These rocks came from all over the world, and they've been with me for so many years, and now they're with you."

    I had to set some of my collection free recently too–rocks and seashells. I gathered up the ones whose origins I could no longer remember, and scattered them in my back yard.

    And, actually, when one of my family's cats died, when I was younger, I went out and put a bunch of the prettiest rocks I had on the spot where he was buried. All our pets had little piles of unusual rocks on the spots they were buried, come to think of it. Guess that's not really helpful, but that's what just came to mind.

  3. What about a small sand/rock garden for a coffee table? Very zen. Or perhaps you could glue them into some sort of spiral pattern on a canvas and use them as wall art, selecting the most interesting or meaningful.

  4. use them as filler in a glass vase or candle holder or make them into a mat for your bathroom/shower

  5. So you've got rocks from all over the world but….do you know where each rock is from? Or are they now just in a box, just rocks?

    My mom used to collect stones when we'd go on vacation. Larger ones, for a garden someday. They collected dust for ages in the garage. She did try and label them, but masking tape doesn't really provide for longevity in labeling =/

    Why not go to your local Freecycle group? There's bound to be someone on there with a backyard/rooftop garden who would love some rocks, if you can't find anything to make with them to keep for yourself.

    • Some of them are labeled—I have a tackle box of some sort with various dividers (one that I used to use to divide up my bead collection), and I'd slip pieces of paper in there to explain where they came from. Sometimes they're in small plastic bags (also with a note of origin) too.

      Freecycle is a good idea! Will look into that. Even a posting on Craigslist might be good.

  6. You could always ebay them! Shoot I am a rock collector and would love to have some! I would even pay you shipping plus and put them on my altar for the space of those that inspire me and are living!

  7. apparently wordpress ate my comment. so here it is again.

    when i was little, where most kids would plant flowers.. i would plant wish rocks. i wished for all kinds of things.. find a group of kids you think would connect with this concept. i'm sure teachers and caregivers of small kids would be able to come up with something :) i loved your comment at butch voices about how rocks absorb experiences… if i were 5 i'd totally be into stealing your rocks. and planting them, wishing for a puppy or something.

  8. I would suggest a rock garden. I'll have to talk to my girlfriend about this, because seriously, her pockets are constantly bulging with rocks she's found, and her favorites are always on her, too. I love this little quirk about her. Hey, can I buy some rocks from ya? :D

  9. 1) Use them like prayer flags only you bury them instead of letting them fly into the air.

    2) Rock arrangement on sand that you can rake into different patterns for meditation.

    3) Give them to friends.

    4) Let each rock tell you what to do with it.

    5) Paint them or engrave words on them like "grow", "live", "love", etc. and give them to friends.

  10. What about putting them into the ocean or another body of water? Either in New York or at home, or somewhere else important to you (depending on how many/heavy they are, if they're not practical to transport). I think there's something neat about bringing together stone, the ultimate hard earth element, and fluid water. Especially smooth pebbles like those — they've all been affected by water at some point, so it would be a kind of return. Also, the ritual would be both a release from the weight of the stones for you, as well as a way to root in the place where you deposit them.

  11. us jews leave rocks on graves or headstones instead of the fleeting flowers or such. obviously you have more than needed for something like that, but the solidity of the ritual is nice, perhaps you could make your own 'grave' or resting place and use them there?

  12. I thought of a zen garden (in your case, many zen gardens given how many stones you have ^_^) too – the ones with water.

    Or, you could give them to an artist to do something with.

    Finally, one could be made into a charm for Kristen :)

  13. What about giving it to GSA groups or those who work with queer youth? So every youth who wants to can take one and know, it's a sort of bond? To remind the keeper that they are not alone? ;-) I think, I would have cherished that.

  14. I like Julia's idea a lot, but should you decide to go in a more garden-y direction, feel free to shoot me an email. I'm involved in a Brooklyn community garden with an avid alpine gardener. If she doesn't have a use for them, I'm sure she knows who in the community garden community would.

    (I assume you get my email from the comment, but just in case, it's bionicmamas AT gmail.)

  15. So…the bottom line is you're looking for a new way to get your rocks off…? (Sorry, sometimes I can't help myself.)

  16. I had just read this post before class last night, and we had a great discussion about cemeteries and how different cultures memorialize the dead. My professor grew up in the Phillippines, and he told us a story of visiting a Chinese graveyard, where the custom is to leave food next to graves (as opposed to native islanders, who leave flowers and candles). He made a remark out loud about how he felt it's silly to leave food when dead people can't eat it, and an older Chinese man responded that the dead will eat the food as quickly as they'll come back to smell flowers and candles. (This story is how he defines "wisdom") The story left me thinking about seeing Gertrude Stein's grave covered in stones, a vision that struck me as both a solemn but profound gesture, more permanent than flowers or food, yet transient all the same. Where did those stones come from? Surely they each had a story, an origin, like yours. People have come from across the world to visit her grave, and I dare to imagine those stones traveling in palms and pockets across airplanes and Parisian streets, finding a home among the others in Pere Lechaise.

    If it were me, I would leave stones with the places and people that I loved and respected, scattering them to the world in the same haphazard way they came to you. I would create some into art projects — zen gardens, glued into a visual art piece, etc. and give those as presents to friends during the holidays. I would leave some at places that inspired me. I would send some as tokens — I loved the idea of sending them to GSA's or students, etc. I would use them as an inspiration to travel and explore — when you are visiting a city for a workshop or conference, visit a new garden, a museum, etc. and leave a rock. I might even dare to take a photograph of each place or person I left a rock with, because photographs and memories are what I collect.

    What do these rocks inspire you to do? What would you want to offer someone else — and how can the rocks become a tool to help you do that? Are they a connection with the external world? That is what I glean from what you have said, and therefore I would use them to reconnect with that world. Or are they a way of pulling your environment into the personal, the internal, in which case I would go the route of a zen garden or something closer to home.

    Good luck with whatever you decide :)

  17. i think you should carry a couple around with you all the time, and leave them as markers of moments as you go about your life.. giving them up at a similar pace to that at which you collected them.

    when i have one of those moments thats really great or just really noticeable going about my daily life, i always wish i could leave something of myself there – in that space and time – to continue experiencing it. you could do that with the rocks. leave one wherever you have a really great moment, or a terrible one, or just something that feels significant. mark it with a rock.

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