Submitted by Gerry Hinman, Berkshire Farm Center Coordinator of Therapeutic Recreation and Project Adventure & Adventure Based Counseling enthusiast.
While at a PA debriefing workshop with Jim Schoel, I had an opportunity to add a new tool to my tool bag – actually it was 10 oddly-shaped rocks. At first, I was very skeptical. While building a tower of his own, Jim instructed the group members to grab as many rocks from the bucket and “do something” with them while reflecting on their lives. Being a veteran adventure practitioner, I reserved judgment and went about the task of “doing something” with these rocks. Minimally, I felt that I would build the biggest tower of the group and impress my fellow group members. My first attempt went very well. I immediately built an impressive tower and it was almost complete when I decided to add just one more rock and it came crashing down. Uggh... I would have to begin again and I was quite frustrated as I attempted to attain my prior success. This time I was far more rational and logical about my placement of rocks and still…disaster. Finally, after much effort, I had reached the height that I once attained and I went for the rock that had toppled my first attempt. It was then that I paused and looked at what I had accomplished and said to myself “be satisfied with what you have accomplished.” It was a fine tower and I did not need the stress of having it come crashing down again. Throughout the remainder of the day, I felt myself drawn to looking at my rock sculpture and the way that these solid objects rested upon themselves in a precarious manner and that, at the very bottom, the foundation was balanced by the smallest of stones. I saw the frailty of life in my little sculpture and how it can all come crashing down if we don’t know when to say “enough.”
When we processed the activity in the workshop, I was amazed to see how everyone had taken a different approach with their rocks. Some used the rocks to tell the story of their lives, with the rocks representing people. One person created a replica structure of a place where he used to live which had been a sanctuary for him. I thought hard about how the experience related to my life and was stunned to realize that everything about the process was like my life. I realized that I am always pushing “things” to the limit and that never knowing when to say “enough’s enough” often has unwanted consequences such as stress. I realized that I do better and enjoy the process better when I don’t over think what it is that I am doing!
I decided to take these rocks back with me and rebuild them in my office. I set the rocks on the table in my office until one day I had time to rebuild them. A funny thing happened, however, when one of my employees sat down and built a rock sculpture with “my rocks.” My first reaction was disappointment which immediately turned into a smile as I realized that these rocks would be used to build over and over again and that each sculptor would have his or her own story. His rock sculpture fell the very next day and I noticed the look of disappointment on his face and reassured him that this was good and that now someone else would have an opportunity to re-build it and learn.
Today, that someone was me. I re-set them up as a reminder that no matter how strong we are, it is often the smallest things that keep us standing tall and sometimes the key to happiness is knowing when “enough is enough.”