Two people walked. A couple. The woman went ahead. Down to the water, and back up the beach. Many times she went, back and forth. With her, two dogs. One small, one larger. The dogs constantly running, yet always coming back. Jumping up, then sprinting away. The man walked carefully. Slowing periodically. Scuffing the ground, kicking a rock. The whole way he kept slowing to kick a rock.
Today I kicked a rock about a kilometre down the beach. My rules were simple. It had to be the same rock and I had to always go forward. It’s funny what you can learn kicking a rock down the beach. The pattern a tumbling rock makes in the sand. How much to scrunch my toes. What my rock looked like from every angle. To recognise my rock in the middle of hundreds of other similar rocks. Even the time I took my eye off the rock as it tumbled across the scree. How often it ended in seemingly improbable positions. Hanging from an invisible string.
These rules allow only two sensible strategies. Kick carefully or decide you don’t care that the games ends. How many times did I kick the rock? Dozens. Hundreds? Each time I was able to make sure that it was carried forward far enough to kick again. It’s a simple thing to kick a rock, but isn’t everything simple?
I wasn’t surprised that the rock changed. I was more surprised that I changed. Kicking a rock, thinking about care. About this world. About me. About the power of decisions. It’s not hard to take care. To be careful. To carry something forward. To make sure something isn’t left behind.