a bag of rocks

My mom always picked up rocks. We would be on vacation, visiting some historic site, and she would pick up a rock. As we kids got older, it became a family joke.

I understand it. I do it too. I find striking or odd or incredibly normal rocks and dry them off and stick them in my pocket. There is something about having tangible reminders.

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out a dresser drawer. The top one. The one full of baseball cards and old watches and wornout wallets. And rocks.

There was a quart-size bag’s worth of rocks in that drawer. They were reminders of beaches and lakes and hills. They mark times that I wanted to remember.

Unfortunately, they don’t remind me of the times. They merely remind me that there must have been times that I wanted to remember. I can’t be specific because I never marked the rocks with dates or locations or anything that would help me know what I wanted to always remember.

If I had marked them, if I had recorded any information about them, if I had spent time looking at each rock and telling the story of that time on the Upper Peninsula, I wouldn’t have a bag of rocks. I’d have a bag of reminders.

Stories need tangible reminders. Objects need stories. Whether it’s 12 rocks from the middle of the Jordan River or bread and wine, the story and the object give each other ongoing meaning.

Why mention this on a Monday?

Because it is possible that something changed for you this weekend. You finally understood. You finally said “yes.” Or “no”. You decided. You committed. You want to remember.

My suggestion? Pick up a rock. Label it. Then tell the story of the pebble with the mailing label.

One thought on “a bag of rocks

  1. Johanna Fenton

    Jon, you said: “I find striking or odd or incredibly normal rocks …” I’m glad you added that last phrase. Most rock collectors I know only care for the first two varieties. Yet there’s something to be said for incredibly normal rocks. “They have feelings, too, you know” is something I reportedly said to my grandpa while rock picking, probably when I was 5 or younger.

    Sorry, this has nothing really to do with the main thrust of your lovely post. That tiny bit just struck me, that’s all.

    By the way, I collect rocks in the shapes of States (among other things). So far I’ve got Minnesota and the whole of the USA.

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