Stacking Rocks for the Soul by Francesca Gundrum

In our toxic concoction of culture, detaching oneself from the concept of time is practically impractical. With watches whipped on our wrists, deadlines, punching in, punching out, beeping, chiming and ringing and dinging every minute, every moment, escaping time’s tentacles is seemingly unrealistic. However, there is a trail one can take to eclipse time’s tenure—even for a slice of a second.

One day, without a schedule or Siri, some friends and I windows-down drove our way throughout the windy one-ways and scattered cars of Acadia National Park. After thousands of steps and sights, one of our friends asked if we would like to stack some rocks. Confused, yet hedged with the tendrils of curiosity, we agreed. He had been here the year before and remembered which turns to take, where to leave our car behind, and why we needed to go. He left us with little explanation of what exactly we would be doing, where we would be doing it, and why we we should trust him that this adventure was worth our time.

After several minutes of trekking along the cliffs that cloaked the ocean’s breaks, he found what we were looking for. Carved into the face of the cliff was a modest beach coated in layers of spherical rocks: giant, circular, oval, elliptical, oblique-shaped rocks. We carefully climbed down the fifty-foot cliffs and hopped from boulder-to-boulder, feeling the rubber of our shoes bend atop their rounded summits as the ocean breeze swelled within our noses and chilled our skin.

Our friend who had been here before picked up an egg-shaped rock and tapped one of its edges on top of another bowed boulder. With his pupils piercing the place where these two rocks joined each other, the rock in the seams of his fingers ebbed and flowed and spun and released and caught and he waited until they found balance: until both rocks absorbed their respective imperfections and merged to form infinity. Like a chemical reaction the two bonded to create one molecular mystery—and all doubt, all judgement, every “can’t” disintegrated in a flash of inorganic anomaly.

Struck by this strange stasis of improbability, I began to search for two parts of a whole: one rock to append another. I hopped from boulder-to-boulder, waiting for an extremity to call upon me—to hail me toward it. I inhaled their stories and let the sand beneath their bodies dive into my diaphragm. I forged bonds between the bones of the ocean—I put pieces that should not, could not connect together, together.

From boulder to pebble they pieced together like droplets of earth’s flawless flakes. Each circular hunk depended on the weight and pressure and the shape of the one below and above it to maintain the trunk of the tower. We created dozens of wild skyscrapers and along the way, we forgot about time.

This wedge of wilderness had cast its spell upon us. We did not spend or waste our time at this place: we collected it. We assembled the ocean’s scraps she had tossed and forgotten on the shoulders of her shores and we actively forgot. Consumed by silence and patience and conviction we poised time on the tips of our fingers and dismantled the rules, the regulations, the guidelines, the codes, the modes, the formulas, and the models that mold the archetypes that constrain the mind, the body, and the soul.

This place exists within each of us. She is not just this tucked away sliver of National Park: she is everywhere. But do not search, let her find you. Let her call to you. Go into her wild. Listen to her sonnets. Do not wait for the minutes to make your memories. Go and collect your time.