space out of time

The first act of will is to decide that time does not matter.

The second is to surrender will to the rock.


Immersed in the presence of this new language, I forgot that I was here for a reason! “We know you love your metaphors,” Rachel teased before I came. The other roommate just laughed. 🙂

Lauren described my fourth rock balance as “precarious.” Ah – momentarily I recognized myself. “Taut control,” said Andy Goldsworthy in an excerpt of a video we watched, “can be the death of our work.” As the workshop ended, during the closing circle, Rita recalled Lila’s introduction of Hermes, the god of boundaries and the travelers who cross them. (Hermes is also the god of thieves: what greater boundaries are there to cross than those imposed by custom and law? (shhhh!))

I had forgotten. Our teacher, Lila Higgins, spoke first in the closing circle, describing the cairn she’d built a few days earlier at the crossroads leading to our final rock balancing site,

Cairn at the Crossroads.jpg

and her delight in communion with the unknown balancer who had rebuilt it in the days since. Listening to her, my consciousness was nudged to remember: I was here to mark the current turn in the trajectory of my life. Then, after others including myself had spoken, Rita recalled Hermes. How had that god slipped my mind?! It seems I had achieved – if only for a short while – the intention expressed by another workshopper,

“to explore the present as a rock does.”


We watched videos of Bill Dan building rock balances, and also of George Quasha. My mind required time (exposure, continuity) to shift from its usual operational state-of-consciousness (ahem) to this altered perceptual state “charged with an air of contingency” in which time has no substance. For hours at a stretch, I experience only concentration and sensation: ripples of subdued emotion (annoyance, tenderness, impatience, resolve, fear of failure, renewed commitment) and yearning for that satisfying moment when the rock finds its place.


Will my intellectual work emanate a similar resonance? I hope so. 🙂 I have felt similar types of ‘click moments‘ in the past. Trusting them has led me here – to this junction, where I discover conviction deepening without reducing uncertainty.


Carter Ratcliff introduces the artistic ethic of George Quasha (who is inspired by John Cage) with words that likewise describe the ethical center of my action research goal:

“…an axis is like an intention:
a force that, as it
generates possibilities, gives them a
provisional but
intelligible order.”


More photos of rock balancers and some rock balances produced during this workshop are on this page at Lila’s rockbalancer site.
See also hickoree, rebranca46 (Rocks Balancing), and bebalance (Super Balance: Birds, Bottle, Bricks, Birds Again…).

2 thoughts on “space out of time”

  1. Hey Yinman!
    I even had withdrawal, being pulled to balance rocks in the days following – have only managed once so far but it is so in mind. I want to cultivate that state-of-being. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *