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The International Writers Magazine
: Life

If a marriage ends in divorce, is the diamond disappointed?

Rock On
Jeffrey Beyl

I am sitting in my backyard in the early morning stillness. I hear birdsong from the trees. My cat, a grey tabby, stretches, yawns, and rolls in the warmth of the sunshine. Yellow jackets crawl from their nests and wing off hunting. Two squirrels chatter and hop along the fence. Life is going on around me. I have been reading a book on Geology, about the formation of Washington State, the glacial gouging out of Puget Sound. I look up from the book. Cirrus clouds streak the stratosphere, wind swept ice crystals. It must be windy up there. What is going on up there?

I turn my attention back to Earth. What is going on down here? What went on before through geologic time? We can read about the formation of rocks, the formation of mountains and continents. We can understand what Magma is, recrystallization, foliation, all the terms that geologists use. But can we really understand the intense processes that build and create rock?

What is rock? The Earth is a giant ball of rock. Marble, slate, shale, schist.

Beach rock, smoothed and rounded, polished and shiny. I hold a small handful. Agate, granite, basalt, quartz, others I can’t identify. I roll them in my palm and listen as they click against each other. Looking closely at them I can picture that each is a tiny world, perfect in and of itself. I hold an agate to the sun and peer into its translucent body. I peer closely into a granitic ball and see how the sunlight reflects and refracts within its faceted crystal structure. I can actually look into its interior. Rocks carry the story of the earth; they are the story of the earth.

A friend of mine, an old rock and roller from way back, always carries a few small pebbles in his pocket. He’ll pull out a couple, hand them to someone, smile and say, "Keep on rockin’". Corny maybe, but I still have the few pieces of pea gravel he gave me more than twenty years ago. They reside in an abalone shell on my desk. Rock of ages. Rock and roll. Rock me baby. Rock on.

I have rocks that I have collected from all over the world. I can pick up rocks throughout my house and tell the story of how, where and when I found them. Lava from the top of Mount Rainier, agates from the edge of the Pacific Ocean, quartz crystals and petrified wood from the Yellowstone River in Montana. Small pieces of volcanic rock from Carribean islands. I have rocks from the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I have rocks from the grave of Ernest Hemingway. I place rocks in bowls, on window sills, in potted plants, on top of stacks of paper. I always have my current favorites that I carry around in my pocket. I touch them; rub them as the urge possesses me. If someone admires one I give it to them.

I like giving rocks away. Why not? Share the land. I was recently giving a talk, a seminar on the origins and properties of stone. I had brought along several samples, among which was a collection of crystals, amber and agates that I had polished. One lady admired them and openly said so as she held some in her hand. She rubbed them with her thumb. I gathered up a handful and presented them to her. "Here, you may have these." She gave me a strange look in return. Hey, it’s no big deal. It’s just a couple of rocks. Keep on rockin’, as my friend would say.

There is a philosophical school of thought called Gaia Theory. It contends, in a nutshell, that all things, the earth most importantly, and thus rocks (Earth), all make up one single living system. It contends that living organisms and their inorganic surroundings function together as a self organizing system. This leads to the belief that the Earth is alive. We, as humans, are made up of water, atoms, so is the earth. We are alive. If we take this further, the earth is alive. Further still and we can say that the rocks we pick up on the beach are alive. If those rocks were to keep rolling around in the surf, they would eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Sand. As time marches on, that sand would be pressed down and down by more and more sand. Further and further down into the earth those pieces of sand, our little beach pebble, would be compressed. Heat and pressure would work on it and it would change. It would become part of the earth again. Limestone or marble, which is recrystallized limestone, or perhaps it would metamorphose into slate. This fascinates me. This is why I like giving rocks away.

Sedimentary, Metamorphic, Igneous. Panpsychism. Rock on.

If the earth is alive, does it laugh at us and our petty squabbles? What do these rocks sitting on my desk think about our constant stress and quest for the almighty dollar? Money. Gold. Gold comes from within the Earth. Is gold alive? Do rocks think, be patient? When a bomb explodes in the desert, does the sand feel pain? Is the war in Iraq somehow tied to Plate Tectonics and the subduction of continents? If we set an oil well afire, is it somehow like touching a torch to an artery? Do rocks wonder, what the hell are you doing? I do. We pledge our love with diamonds. Diamonds are rocks too. What do they think? If a marriage ends in divorce, is the diamond disappointed? Does it want to free itself from the confines of the jewelry setting? The jewelry setting itself is part of the earth, silver, gold, platinum. Does the diamond want to go back into the earth, melt, re-solidify and become something else? I would. If I was a rock. I am a rock. We will rock you. Rock around the clock. Like a rock.

The patterns of nature. The language of stone. Weathering horizon. Look back time. The present is the key to the past. I am a rock.
Rock On.

© Jeffrey Beyl March 5th 2007

jab168 at

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