Yesterday I found a rock.
Now, I’ve already written in this space about a much bigger rock–a boulder, in fact–that has come to symbolize my continuing recovery from traumatic brain injury. But this was just a smooth rock that fits in the palm of my hand.
On one side was a happy, smiling sun. It looked liked something a child might have drawn, with its rays poking out in beautifully random directions. Then I turned the stone over in my hand, and what was there took my breath away. “Be a light to the world,” someone had written in yellow marker.
My Facebook post about the find got me lots of online love. Above the photos, I had typed “ASKED AND ANSWERED: I often ask myself what my purpose in life is. Look what I found on the way home from yoga today.#willtry”
But the reality wasn’t that simple.
At our Community Center, there’s a long hallway between the gym and the library, and on my way to return a library book, I had made the mistake of looking at my Facebook feed while wolfing down a protein bar. (No, the protein bar wasn’t the mistake. That was delicious candy.) The mistake was looking at my phone. I happened to see one of those ads that the Facebook algorithm thinks would be right up your alley. Well, this ad was nowhere near my alley’s zip code. Immediately my mood went from blissed-out to boiling. Who is this Al Gorithm, anyway???
So I shoved–that’s right, shoved–my book through the library’s Book Drop slot near the building’s exit and stomped outside, determined to give Mr. Gorithm a piece of my mind. (If you’ll recall, my brain injury sometimes means I wear my emotions on my sleeve.) Anyway, the process involved clicking a button or two on my phone and receiving a message that, in the future, I wouldn’t be receiving ads of that nature.
Well, alrighty then.
I looked around. Apparently, no one had witnessed my ridiculous behavior. Whew!
Then I looked down. The little stone was there, sunny-side up, next to the building near the doorway. I picked it up.
Suddenly, no more anger, which I’d been feeling in the pit of my gut. I felt grateful and happy, which I now felt as a fullness in my heart. (These physical sensations come from yoga and meditation, so you readers can take this paragraph or leave it.)
Of course, though, being me, I then went back into the library, chose a new book and showed my librarian friend what I’d found. I fretted about whether I should turn in the stone, in case the kid who’d dropped it came looking. She told me people often leave objects of encouragement like that–little notes, etc.–and that maybe I was meant to find this rock.
But still, I peeked through the darkened windows of the Community Center’s preschool to see if similar art was on display. It wasn’t.
So, still conflicted about keeping the rock, I walked home. I took my usual route, which leads me up a hill that gives me a view of my far-off old friend Rocky. I sat down in a shady spot and meditated and prayed. I remembered how my yoga teacher had recently talked to us about “cleaning house,” or ridding ourselves of what we don’t need. For me, anger had been cluttering my mind.
I photographed both sides of the stone and made my Facebook post.
Then, feeling happy, I walked home to the tune of “This Little Light of Mine.” Long ago my Uncle Maze would lead the church children, including me, in the singing of that song, accompanied on piano by Aunt Catherine. Both are long gone, but I can still see the happiness on his face.
I didn’t name my rock Baby Rocky, even though it has meaning for me. That’s because a child may come looking for it someday. Or who knows? I may leave it for someone else who needs relighting.