A Metaphor About a Rock

Hubris told me that I could take any topic thrown my way and spin it into a story.

“Beth, write a metaphor about a rock.”

I paused on “metaphor,” brain fumbling – a metaphor about a rock. “My writing relies on anecdotes,” I weakly protested. That’s always my fall back – anecdotes or rants – my writing go-to’s. I quickly spun the rolodex and plucked out a few stories featuring rocks:

  • When I was around 5, I firmly believed all rocks came from the Moon carried back to earth by the members of the Apollo 11 space mission, and I was quite distressed about the whole thing. Didn’t they realize that children were getting hurt because they were throwing these same rocks at one another? How could these American “heroes” be so irresponsible? I launched a complaint to my parents who thought I was absolutely adorable. It was that same short-sighted, patronizing attitude that likely drove the astronauts to bring back all those rocks in the first place. Adults were exhausting back then – they just didn’t take the growing rock crisis as it related to childhood rock injuries seriously enough. Why were they idolizing these monsters?
  • By 8th grade, I realized I had it all wrong – the astronauts had really opened the door for new collaborative ways to bring kids together. Each morning, the bus stop kids divided up, choosing respective sides, and would line up on opposite sides of the street. Rocks would rain down until the bus came into view. I’m not great at many things, but I can nail you with a rock when motivated (or just cranky). This likely explains archery – it turns out I naturally have a decent sight picture. Combine that with not being a morning person, and well… you get the idea. On a particular morning, where I probably wasn’t in the mood for a prolonged battle, I ended the day’s rock shelling by picking up a large rock and charging the other side in what could best be described as a determined run-waddle. Tossing the thing more than three feet would have been impossible; however, the results were undeniable – the other team scattered in fear. I returned to my side the victor for the day.  Thank you, astronauts! Who needs coffee to get you going? Adults were clearly doing things wrong.
  • Fast forward to Covid – that little thing that’s still going on that you may have heard of – that thing doubtlessly created by Netflix to keep you glued to your couch and away from hugging your grandmother. Why does Netflix hate your Meemaw?!?! Anyway… I was chatting with a friend, “I need a movie suggestion.” “Beth, this is easy. You’re kind of going through a Dwayne Johnson thing which is pretty ridiculous, but might I suggest one of those?” I watched Rampage. It was great – my kind of stupid – though, to my knowledge, astronauts had nothing to do with this particular Rock.

The rolodex stopped spinning, and that’s all I really had and they were anecdotes, not metaphors.

Rock as a metaphor.

I started thinking about rocks in metaphor – symbols of permanence, unwavering strength – immovable, unchanging, reliable, a challenge. I thought about Sisyphus and his eternal punishment to push his enchanted boulder. I thought of the punishment of the Titan Atlas – his burden to hold the celestial heavens (arguably a large group of rocks and a whole lot of vacuum).

Rocks as punishment was becoming a theme within my thoughts.

I mean, let’s be honest who doesn’t enjoy a good stoning? Ask any proponent of cannabis and you’re bound to find a fan or two.

I thought of telling a story about ripples in a pond as they form, then spread out once a stone is skipped. But that story is about the ripples, not the stone which now lays quietly on the bottom – no longer in the sun. In the metaphorical world, rocks really get a bum rap. While they occasionally get to shine – they never dance like light, make a splash like rain, rumble like thunder, or gently stroke a cheek like a breeze. They’re grounded. They’re slow to change.

Then I remembered…

  • a piece of quartz I have sitting on my computer, a reminder I will heal
  • stones from the Mediterranean, brought by a friend after their travels overseas
  • rocks from the Kingsland slab, one handed to me – a reminder of a quiet and beautiful day in a cool breeze – fish dancing in a stream
  • a discovered rock to start a garden

Symbols of time and friendship.

So, I offer this to a bard –

True friendships sometimes form through the heat of life – friendships that once opened, reveal something wholly unexpected and breathtaking. Some friendships are built over time – layer by layer – each day, each week, each year adding something new, something unexpected, while others come through a metamorphosis – as a person transitions from neighbor/classmate/colleague to friend. Each is unique… beautiful – made of the dust of stars.

I guess I owe thanks to a group of explorers who brought pieces of the Moon down to Earth – who brought you to me.

You are my rocks.

The Dust of Stars: From the Mediterranean to the Texas Hill Country