If my dog could explain to you my job, he would probably say I have been assigned to move rocks. Not because my dog is well-versed in metaphors, but because one of our daily rituals is to go to a nearby stream where he can play in the water and I’ve taken to moving rocks. I like the idea of altering the course of the stream. I like to see how I can make shapes or patterns. It does help me to think in a more meditative way about how to affect change. The water is out of my control as it depends on the rainfall, the other tributaries, the heat or the cold. But when I just place large rocks or build up the side of the river bed, the river flows differently.
There are rocks jutting out at the surface, then I get into the water to find those under the current to make slight walls or bumps. It is when I take a flat rock to shovel all the sand and small stones and debris that the course of the water is altered. The large rocks can be moved in a flash flood, tipped to one side, or fallen under. The plowed walls take longer to erode, as layers of sand can wash away but the integrity of the wall remains. Or maybe it is just that other visitors to the site find the rocks the more enticing plaything.
Makes me meditate on how people operate from the stance that the urgent action is to move the biggest rocks. Those rocks look daunting, like monuments to time, sturdy and ready for Sisyphus to push up a mountainside. Perhaps if each day he had carried up buckets of sand, it would be have been harder for the Gods to punish him.
As we consider the space for social change, we love to see the biggest items, the easiest to spot – the big orange bafoon who entertains his base with tweets and promises to be great.Yet what of the grains of sand, the individual people who happily follow his mandates and don’t even know to be ashamed of their crimes against their own humanity. He never puts on a uniform, picks up his ID badgex, and scans into work at a detention center housing scared children and terrified parents. We have it in our minds that if we could only move more of the big rocks, then perhaps the current would erode a new path. We need to enforce the walls, collect each piece and mold it with others, eventually that big rock will become unsettled, it will move, it will have no other options.