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Today I Built a Cairn

I walked a long, winding path to get here. To this beach and to this time of life, if we’re talking meta. Once I arrived, sweaty, hands filled with my morning glorious iced coffee, I was elated. Tearful, even. The beauty of this place is jaw-dropping. I read with a friend a while, met a handsome fella-a French bulldog who sought me out twice so we’re obviously besties now. Although I don’t know his name so that’s awkward. Not all that different than the beginning of most of my new friendships, if we’re keeping it real. Which we are. I digress.

I decided I could (should maybe?) endeavor towards the beach. I’m what you call “indoorsy” so intentionally choosing the sun is about as common an occurrence as me choosing to intentionally eat celery. It doesn’t happen and ewww why would it?! As I walked down the path to the water, I noticed the most stunning cairn. One that was clearly built with patience and love. I decided to do the same. My friend, Julie, builds them all the time so I had planned to do the same at some point in my life and today was that day.

When I approached the area I had scoped out for my build I knew just what I would build. I knew this because I had seen pictures. And I had seen what others have done. And I was going to do the same. Better actually. Because I’m extra and that’s how I (rock) and roll 😏 See what I did there?

I placed the first large rock (about the size of my head). Then the second. This is easy, I thought. Then the third rock which began the thought process that led to this writing. That third rock, it fell. Must be a fluke, I told myself. So I tried again. And again. And a different large rock. And another. And another. I was committed. These rocks would not get the best of me.

Focus. That’s what I need. I need to get out of my head and allow this process to guide me. Music might help! So I got out my phone and pressed play on my favorite playlist. “You call me out upon the feet may faith will stand.”

I looked around. Large rocks as far as the eye could see. I lowered my gaze, small rocks everywhere. All different sizes and shapes but all smaller. But others had used larger rocks and their cairn stood proud and tall. Still, I stretched and reached for those damn large rocks. A stubborn one, I can be. It wasn’t long before I gave into what my gut had told me from the start. Set your foundation strong and build from there. My gut talks to me a lot, I don’t always listen but it speaks to me. The size of the rock doesn’t matter, the strength and balance does. So I did that. I still sometimes found myself attempting to balance a far-too-large rock on the smaller ones. It never worked.

After I completed the process I began to cry. This is how I approach life. Comparison as a breeding ground for frustration and self-doubt. If I’d choose to trust myself from the beginning I’d save myself a lot of difficulty and heartache. But I’d also rob myself of the journey and experiencing the growth that brings. There’s power and movement available in both. I’m learning to value that. It ends up being about grace and self-compassion. And knowing that you’re not always ready to see the smaller rocks within your reach. To see what is available to you in the present moment. And that is ok. Because you will see them when you’re supposed to see them. There are times I’m just not ready and well-meaning people will stand next to the smaller rocks, waving and flailing about, shouting, “Start here! This is what you’re looking for!! Listen to us! Try this.” But if my eyes can not see, they just cannot see.

As I considered what I had built, I started to realize this bigger message that so beautifully aligns with change. I’m a dreamer and see big things. It’s the small steps towards the dream that trip me up. Focusing the great majority of my attention on what I want that’s out in the distance. Diverting my attention on the here and now, what could be rather than what is. Forgetting to bask in the glory of the here. And the now.

The irony is this: when I consider the blessings in my life I most often look back at all that I’ve been given that helped me along the path. Focusing on what was. Again, diverting from the here and now.

What makes me (and if I might be so bold to say, US) so determined, allergic even, to sitting in the here and now? Maybe I can get my friend Nathan Croy to comment? He knows a bit about existentialism.

Here are the lessons I’m getting in this moment:

What you need to reach your goal is often within your reach. Because as you move towards and accomplish one it moves you closer to the next, which is then also within your reach. And so on and so on. Funny how that works, huh? It doesn’t really matter how big that movement is. It’s that you’re moving and appreciating every step of the way. Set your foundation. Make it as strong as possible. This is what you’ll build the rest on. There are repercussions to solidly placing small rocks (and small changes) in your life.

There are more thoughts forming even as I write these words but those are for another day.

As I started back to my room I walked across wobbly stones that were as big as my head. The same stones that challenged me just moments before. I balanced and wobbled on them as I walked. And they held me. Even if I had fallen, it would have hurt, but they would have held me. Because something is holding them. A foundation of many, many, many rocks that were once large stones just like them. A foundation can only be strong because it has been set that way. It earned it. So many metaphors can be drawn from this. I haven’t even considered the changes that take place from the rushing waves. Rocks that seem so strong and solid turned to sand. And the time that takes. There’s something to be said for that.


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