Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The patience of the rocks...

Embedded for hundreds of millions of years...
waiting to take their place on the beach. 
This morning, I tapped my fingers, slightly impatiently, waiting for the laptop to boot up. It took 57.41 seconds.

Yesterday, I witnessed a "birth". The process had taken 300,000,000 years.

Still waiting...
While exploring the cliffs, I touched a tiny, sparkling piece of quartz, exposed and on the leading edge of the sandstone face. It was loose, and it fell into my hand - free, for the first time, in hundreds of millions of years.

It's strange really, this demand we have for instant gratification, quick answers, and the easy realization of our hopes and dreams...without struggle, significant personal effort, or the passage of time.

I know this very well.

I want to be fit enough to run a marathon again. Now. I'd like to get back to what I weighed when I was 25. Now. I'd like to play the piano like a virtuoso. Now. I'd like the technical skill to climb a difficult mountain. Now. I want the ability to paddle and play in the standing waves of the River Tay. Now.

It makes so little sense to want these things without the willingness to make the patient effort required.

There is wisdom in these ancient red cliffs. They embrace a marvellous diversity of rocks. When erosion and unimaginable time loosen the sandstone's grip, they are free. Now, obedient to gravity, they fall to the ground to become part of the shore we walk upon almost every day.

The old philosopher said, "to everything there is a season." The time that precedes that "season" however, gives we humans opportunity for effort. Effort requires patience.

...and now washed by the tides and the waves and warmed by the sun.
Some rocks still wait.
Empty depressions remain from others that are free.
I carry in my pocket now, that tiny, sparkling piece of quartz, "birthed" (literally) into my hand. It lay deep within the ancient cliffs, by what is now the North Sea, for hundreds of millions of years.

It reminds me to be patient - with myself, with others, and with everything that is worthy of time and effort. I like what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

"Adopt the pace of nature: 
her secret is patience."

A handful of "time".
There's a 10km run coming up here in a few weeks. We've registered...and we're not ready. 

It's time, indeed, for patient effort. That, after all, is what training is all about. And it's usually not easy. :)



  1. That is so very cool about the rocks....I love the way they look "waiting" in the sandstone. Patience and effort...hmmm... I'm not very good at either of those but you'll do great! 10K I'll be cheering you on from across the waters.

  2. Patience isn't very easy for a lot of us, L. Tell me about it. Rocks everywhere have so many stories to tell, wish I had more knowledge about such things. Right now! :) Good reason to patiently read and learn. Warm wishes, D.

  3. Dear Duncan:
    Your blog today spoke to me in an extra-special way, because my greatest character fault is my impatience. I agreed with your gentle comments and understood them fully.
    Also, I frequently load myself up with stones in my pockets and arms. Each time I visit the beach across the road, there are always stones that capture my imagination and admiration. The best stone that I ever found was on our property and it was in the exact shape of a heart. I gave it to my husband. I sent him this rock to keep in his pocket whenever he is away. “Home is where the heart is”, is not just an empty phrase to me. Thank you. Gayle.

  4. Thank you for your kind words, Gayle. Nature does have a way of speaking to us and even conveying messages for us through the symbols they represent, as did your little heart-shaped stone. Indeed, home is where the heart is - but sometimes one's heart is split! :) Again thank you. Duncan.

  5. Glad to see you're back "home". Didn't mean to miss all the posts, but I've been a bit busy holidaying.
    Will you be practising surfing the Tay's standing waves on Saturday during the Descent?

  6. Hi Sarah, great to hear from you. Hope your holiday was enjoyable. Will we be practising surfing the Tay's standing waves? Um, not yet...still have to "patiently" acquire a few more whitewater skills! :) Sure looks like fun though! We'll be at the Paddle Show show. Maybe see you there?

  7. Great teacher that earth is! You guys i'll have no trouble ripping out a 10km run all the same!

  8. A great teacher indeed, Lee, as you well know. I think your confidence level for this run is higher than ours! Haha! Many thanks friend. Cheers. Duncan.

  9. Great stuff Duncan, and fascinating to speculate on the processes that combined to put that pebble into your hand at that moment :o)

    Kind regards

  10. Thanks for that, Ian. I just wish that little pebble could tell us it's life history! But in lieu of that, I appreciate very much the information you sent along. :) Take good care. Talk to you again soon. Duncan.