Understanding the Rocks


Crossing the street in Saigon and Hanoi (and doubtless many, many other Asian cities) is an act of faith and trust. Intersections with traffic lights are scarce, and so at some point you have to take a deep breath, and insert yourself into the flow of scooters, cars and buses coming at you from all four directions at once.

I figured out that the “trick” is to make no sudden moves – just proceed slowly and steadily – so that hundreds of drivers at the same time can take note of your presence, predict your intentions, and allow for that on their “radar”. Basically, it’s  a partnership of sorts, and it works. I crossed dozens of times.  I suddenly had this image of myself as a rock in a stream – the “waters” parted for me, and came back together after they passed me by.

There is a beautiful brook which passes in right front of our cabin in the Vermont woods. Over the years, I have had countless opportunities to observe and contemplate the patient & soft (yet strong ) waters while they tumble and (and pare) their way to the sea. They come up against a rock or other obstacle, pass around (or sometimes over) it, then join up and continue on their adventure. For some reason I never really thought about before now, I’ve always identified myself with the waters, and never the rocks. I think it must be because the waters get to travel and have all those neat adventures, and the rocks are stuck in place.

The soft overcomes the hard

But after Saigon, I want to understand the rocks too.

Right now, what’s coming through to me from the rocks is an example on aging successfully. I mean, these rocks know that eventually they are toast. After all, the Grand Canyon is there today – all carved out by that soft, patient stuff called water, and time. And, do we hear them moaning and whining about it? Nope! They accept the inevitable with grace and a smile (well maybe not a smile). So, that’s today’s teaching for Michael from the rocks. Imagine, if we are willing to listen carefully, even rocks will speak to us.

Practice Tip(s):

1) With respect to photo #1: Altho I successfully crossed “dozens of times”, I don’t recommend it. (Indeed, I do admit that I heard the word “idiot” cast in my direction more than once, on telling this story this story. Hmnn…could they have a point?). Anyway, maybe try harder to find a traffic light. OK?

2) Way easier to hear though, than the voice of the rocks, and on this very point of right attitude in aging, is the voice of poet Fleur Adcock. I love this poem. You will too. It’s called “Weathering“:

My face catches the wind

from the snow line

and flushes with a flush

that will never wholly settle.

Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,

wanting to look young forever, to pass.

I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty

and only pretty enough to be seen

with a man who wanted to be seen

with a passable woman.

But now that I am in love

with a place that doesn’t care

how I look and if I am happy,

happy is how I look and that’s all.

My hair will grow grey in any case,

my nails chip and flake,

my waist thicken, and the years

work all their usual changes.

If my face is to be weather beaten as well,

it’s little enough lost

for a year among the lakes and vales

where simply to look out my window

at the high pass

makes me indifferent to mirrors

and to what my soul may wear

over its new complexion.

Sweet reader, please, be kind to yourself,



About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

Speak Your Mind