Rocks, Water and The Meaning of Life

Yesterday the wind was whipping up the waves into a dancing frenzy. The sun slipped behind a cloud and the water grew dramatically darker. It all seemed to perfectly mirror the surges of emotion I had been experiencing the last few days. Grief, combined with relief, combined with deep love, combined with aching sadness.

Only a week ago I lost someone very special in my life - my dear brother in law, Skip, who was really much more like a real brother to me. As I shared in my last blog post, these Tahoe waters have helped me open to a deeper relationship with life and death. But what happened yesterday took that to a whole new level, courtesy of Mother Nature and the interplay of water and rocks.


And it began with another extended swim...

Lots of my friends think I’m nuts, because I love to swim for long periods in very cold water. But for me, it’s not just about the physicality and aliveness of it – it’s also powerful way to connect with the essence of life. After all, water connects us all. For millions of years, water has cycled through from clouds to lakes to the earth, to rivers to oceans, and back up into the sky. Most of our body is water – and the same water particles that Jesus drank, that Buddha drank, that Attilla the Hun drank are still with us today, cycling through our cells, linking us all through time and space.

Swimming through the waves, stroke by stroke, I felt myself carried into a delicious trance. The waves rising, falling, rising, falling, seemed to pass through me rather than under me, offering the exquisite experience of release and letting go. Waves rise, waves fall. We breathe in, we breathe out. We live. We die. Emotion comes. Emotion goes. It is all a part of life, and Nature can so beautifully reflect the inner landscape of being.

After swimming back and forth across the rocky bay for almost half an hour, my attention was drawn to some rock formations on the beach. A local artist had created a series of cairns along the shoreline, each comprising several precariously balanced rocks.


I swam towards them, wanting to get a closer look at these exquisitely fragile art-scapes. I clambered across the pebbly beach towards them and sat down next to a couple of the larger cairns, just wanting to be in silence with the rocks. I loved the paradox of it. Transience and permanence blended as one. Ancient rocks that have rested here unchanged for aeons, that have seen species and civilizations come and go, held now in a delicately transient balance that a stray tennis ball or a gust of wind could easily destroy.

Life is transient. And life is forever. That is what these rocks were saying.

And I found it to be deeply comforting.

People come and go, but spirit lives on. Ideas come and go, but inspiration lives on.

A feeling of peace came over me.


As I walked through this outdoor art gallery, I felt myself drawn to a large, black stone that lay near the base of one of the formations. Weathered by wind and waves, it was smooth and shiny. I picked it up and instantly felt comforted by the physicality of earth’s gravitational pull. Holding this stone in both hands I began to move and flex with spiral movements, allowing the weight to guide me into a dance with gravity herself . I felt the pull of matter teaching me how to be in my body; how to be grounded and fluid and light and heavy all at the same time.

After I don’t know how long I held this rock high above my head until I almost couldn’t bear it and finally released her with a satisfying thud into the sand. I instantly felt as if a huge weight had now been released from me.

I flopped down on the sand, exhausted and content, knowing I had received a precious gift from the stones and the water: It is what it is what it is.

People die, but spirit lives one. Memories live on. The connection lives on.

Nature is the ultimate connector. The ultimate connective tissue, bringing disparate parts of our being back together as one. Blending the moment and eternity through the loving pull of mother earth’s gravity.

Thank you.

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