Tuesday, September 16, 2008

tumbling rocks

ka-plunk. ka-plunk. ka-plunk. ka-plunk. ka-plunk. ka-plunk. ka-plunk.

imagine that i wrote that word over and over and over again, literally millions of times over every day on this blog for the next 3-4 weeks. not only would that be ridiculous, it would also be incredibly monotonous. welcome to my garage.
last year i bought a rock tumbler at a yard sale. i remember having a rock tumbler when i was a little boy, and so i thought that it might be fun thing to do with jack and cade as they grow up. the box has been sitting on a shelf in the garage all year, driving jack crazy. he has just known that there is some kind of toy in that box, and has been asking me for it over and over. finally, a few weeks ago we busted it out, realized that we needed some grit, ordered it off the internet, and waited. the grit arrived a few days later, so we threw the rocks and the grit and some water into the barrel and plugged the machine in. and ka-plunk, we got smooth rocks.

well, not exactly. the rocks we put in the thing look something like these rocks. in the end, they will hopefully be smooth and shiny. but it doesn't happen quickly. not quickly enough for jack, and certainly not quickly enough for me. its been a week that our garage has been filled with the constant ka-plunk of rocks beating against each other in a fast-forward of natural process. the booklet that comes with the tumbler reminds you that you are doing in a few weeks what it takes nature millions of years to do. and that's great, but it doesn't make the time go any faster.

a rock tumbler is an exercise in patience. almost every time we go into the garage (after the initial instant where your brain goes through the following progression: "what the heck is that noise? oh, yeah, the rock tumbler."), jack asks me, "are the rocks ready yet?"

no, the rocks aren't ready yet. they still have 'lots of minutes' as jack says. it's constant ka-plunking is a kind of reminder that in a culture of instant everything, everything is not really instant. some things take time. much of life is a process. i can connect with you whenever i want. if you are in a meeting or something, i can just text you. if we are at the dinner table and having a debate about whether or not eggs are a dairy product, we can instantly get the answer. during the football game, if i want to find out how many rushing yards willie parker has, the screen will tell me right after the play. and if i don't want to wait until after the play, the internet will tell me during the play. so much in our lives is instant. and while there are some amazing benefits of that, i think part of the cost of that is that we forget what it is like to wait for something. we forget that some things are worth waiting for.

in this case, we are waiting for smooth rocks. maybe, in our lives, we need to learn to wait on some of the processes that will smooth things out for us. maybe, whether than turn every tumble into immediate crisis and drama, we need to take a longer-term view of life, and understand that all our tumbling is a kind of smoothing process, taking the edges off, and making us more beautiful.

or maybe we just want it to be over now.

in any case, we should have some smooth stones in a couple of weeks, and i'll try and remember to show them to you.

have a nice slow and smoothing tuesday,


Crafty P said...

ironically, my morning has been slow and smooth...

i have NEVER heard of a rock tumbler. fascinating!

incidnetally, if the machine didn't say ka-plunk over and over again. What would you want it to say as it worked it's "magic"?

greg. said...

nothing at all. as everyone's great grandparents used to say, "rock tumblers should be seen and not heard."

Anonymous said...

howdy there Greg,

i know it sounds cliche, but being a first time student at college, i'm definitely in a "rock tumbler" stage of my life. everything is sorta foreign, and i'm never quite sure what to expect, especially in my faith. so i just wanted to let you know i found comfort in this entry.