How a Rock Learned to Be a Rock: A fable of life lessons, self awareness, adventure, and learning.

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
4 min read
Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash

Inantique times, there was a busy road called Mainfare. Mainfare ran through a deep valley over rolling lawns and through gentle forests. It connected towns and villages, farms, and cities.

Mainfare was busy because it was the only road paved with stones. Or perhaps because it was busy, it was the obvious choice to pave. No one knew how it came to be. And no one could duplicate it.

It was an engineering marvel whose origins were obscured in the fog of time. People marveled at the craftsmanship that fitted the stones and the sheer amount of labor that must have been expended in gathering and fitting the rock.

There didn’t seem to be enough stone in the entire country to create such a road. Yet there it was, a mute reminder of long-forgotten skills and ingenuity. What giants must have trod the earth and made this monument to utility, commerce, and communication?

During the rainy season, all the other roads were washed out ribbons of slop. It rained a lot.

When winter set in, their ruts and gullies would freeze solid. Winter was long. Under these common conditions, the roads were rendered impassable.

Mainfare remained passable even in the harshest of circumstances.

Ona grassy knoll, nestled above a busy section of Mainfare, was a solitary lone stone. Flowers surrounded this rock in spring, a big tree-shaded it in summer, and graced it with red and yellow leaves in the fall. White snow blanketed it in winter.

It seemed a world away, above the fray, far from the madding, jostling crowd. Tranquility reigned on this mossy knob.

This unassuming rock was a landmark. Travelers would mark their journey when they passed it. Depending on where you started, it could mark a quarter, third, or half an excursion, or almost home.

It was a meeting spot. “Meet me below the rock on Mainfare, and we will go together to town,” was a common refrain amongst the country folk.

Every day along the road was like a pageant and parade. The hustle and bustle and noise seemed intoxicating from up where the rock was poised.

Lovers would sit on the rock and watch the sunrise or set, or marvel at the moon and stars, kiss and hold hands, and confide in one another.

The rock was a familiar physical guidepost and an emblem of many a fond memory. Its station was established, set, and fixed for generations receding past history. The folk all called it Rocky.

Rocky was popular and prominent.

From its vantage point upon the grassy knoll, Rocky could see all the other rocks together on the road. Those ordered rocks stretched to the horizon and beyond in both directions.

Rocky imagined those rocks congregated on the road as happy. They were together and shared a purpose in the utility they provided. They were useful. Their collective usefulness gave them meaning.

Rocky pictured participating in their collective utopia.

Rocks sense time much differently than people. A thousand people years is but a moment to stone.

Rocky grew lonely thinking about the road-rock’s imagined happy state. Rocky thought about friendship, companionship, good fellowship, and togetherness. Solitude lost its appeal. Rocky yearned to join them.

Rocky hatched a plan to roll down the knoll and land right in the middle of the road. After patiently enlisting the wind and rain over the decades, the day finally arrived, and Rocky tumbled down the slope and smack onto the middle of the street.

The goal was accomplished. Now all that remained was enjoying the camaraderie of shared purpose.

Rocky had long viewed the activity on the road, but focused on some aspects and not others. Rocky’s idealized vision of what it would be like now met a very different reality.

It was a harsh existence being stepped on and rode over all day and much of the night. There was no peace and quiet in which to think and chase reveries. And being regularly covered in animal waste wasn’t exactly a boost to self-esteem.

None of the other stones gave Rocky the slightest notice. The road, it turned out, was a mosaic of alienated individual boulders.

The parade felt very different from the position of being underfoot, hoof, and wheel than from the vantage point of the peaceful grassy knoll.

Rocky was tossed about and chipped and stained for what seemed like an eternity. When we are uncomfortably displaced, time seems to drag, even for rocks.

Finally, a couple of wise and mindful travelers noticed what had happened and put things back to what they knew and loved. It was no easy feat to move Rocky back up the slope, but they managed in due time.

Rocky was relieved to be back as the modest landmark amongst the flowers, grass, and tree. That very first evening, a little hedgehog seeking shelter curled up on Rocky’s leeward side and fell asleep.

Time passed, and things changed. Rocky remains the same. To this day, Rocky contentedly maintains that humble station atop the grassy knoll. People have long forgotten Rocky as they zip past in their autos hurrying to and fro.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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