In New England, rock walls are a fairly common sight. What else did people do with all those rocks that they tilled from the soil? When we had our yard landscaped several years ago we had rock walls built to prevent the garden beds from eroding. We even have some rocks, er boulders really, strategically placed in one garden bed for visual interest.
So it should come as no surprise that I find myself building small rock sculptures in our yard. I don’t know what possesses me to do this.
It is a rather meditative act; you find a few rocks and begin to stack them. Sometimes they fall over when they aren’t balanced correctly. Sometimes I wedge small rock shards or sticks into the crevices to create balance. Yet even then balance can be temporary. A chipmunk tries to sit on the sculpture and topples it. A strong wind comes along and knocks the whole thing over. And again I will build the rock sculpture and try to balance it.
Balance. It is a curious concept. When we feel out-of-sync, we seek balance. When we are stressed, we seek balance. Yet when we find balance it is sometimes a temporary achievement because those outside forces that we threw us off to begin with seem to find us once more.
I’m a Libra. The astrological symbol for Libras is the scale of balance which represents the balance that Libras continually seek for ourselves and in our lives.
Before turning to art as a career and business, I worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist and then a Technical Writer. I enjoyed helping people and I enjoyed writing. Yet over time, I didn’t feel completely balanced in either of these careers. It was like I had stacked rocks temporarily but then a wobble would disrupt the balance and the rocks would tumble. I was stressed. I wasn’t very happy.
And then I found myself unemployed.
I decided to take a chance and return to my art; the one activity that I always contemplated during times of stress and dabbled in here and there.
And then I found balance.
Oh it hasn’t been without its ups and downs. The rocks still wobble and sometimes come crashing down. But resetting them is easier. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter if they are balanced because being a little off-kilter is ok now.
And so I build rock sculptures in our yard. And I find joy and balance in creating them. Some stand unscathed and others wobble. And when they tumble I don’t always feel an immediate need rebuild them. Because in life we have balance and we have imbalance. And when we feel good and secure in what we do, the little imbalances aren’t so bad anymore.
I recently learned that these rock sculptures are also known as Stone Cairns. They can be found in many countries and across many cultures including Scotland, Ireland, Tibet, and in the Arctic. The cairns were used as directional markers pointing the way home or to safety. They are also a symbol of friendship and hope. Cairns may also mark the site of a burial, the summit of a mountain, or a special event.