Skipping Stones

I love skipping stones. It’s kind of a Zen like experience. I can picture myself skipping stones with my Dad, with the son I haven’t had yet, with a good friend, with my girl or most importantly totally by myself. Things that you can do by yourself that are special are sometimes the most important things that you can appreciate in this physical existence. I have gotten more “alone time” in  the past few years than I got in the previous 20. That comes with both benefit and cost. At present it comes with great benefit because it has finally become a precious commodity and frankly, I’m finally at a point in my life where I can be alone but not feel lonely. Right now I’m sitting on my couch writing at my computer. I’m listening to the playlist I used in yoga class tonight, specifically the song playing is Peter Gabriel’s rendition of “Heros” from his latest album. I have a homemade pizza in the oven and a glass of wine on the side table in front of me. I’ve interacted in a significant way with dozens of people today. I’m alone but I feel so complete and couldn’t be more content. Funny that “santosha” or the yogic practice of accepting and being content in one’s situation was a big part of a class I took earlier this week. I suspect that’s no coincidence. But enough about the self analysis, reflection and review. Let’s talk about skipping stones.

Everything about skipping stones is a journey of exploration. The finding of the stones. The sizing up of the current or the waves. The space on the beach or bank that is available. The wind. The angle of the lean and the pitch of the arm. I guess it’s always been intuitive to me and there is something about it that needs no explanation. Other people tell me they have no idea how to skip a stone and I think to myself they must be from a different planet because it is as natural to me as walking, breathing or blinking.

This past year on Christmas Eve I had the unique opportunity to take a walk on the beach in above freezing temperatures and glorious sunshine. Now mind you I was not vacationing in some tropical heaven but rather I was on the banks of Lake Michigan in my beloved New Buffalo. There have been other warm days over the Christmas holidays past, but none I think so glorious as this day. And as I walked along the shore with my girl I felt as alive as a person can feel at any moment in time. I could have stayed out there forever. Quickly I noticed that the waves must have been high at some point in recent days because the line of debris and rocks was about fifteen feet higher inland than the water line on this day. Result = Mother load of flat, shale stones, aka the ultimate skipping stones.  It didn’t matter at that point that some of my pre-conceived notions of what Christmas Eve should be this year had not been realized. It was an “audible” of the highest source and I had just an open of enough mind to go along with the script.

I started skipping stones. Some with great success and some with epic failure. What’s great is that when you are skipping stones some of the ones that are perfect which you expect to get great results from wind up diving nose first into the the water from a wave or a bad wrist flip. At other times a hopeless, round, expected “dud” will surprise and glide 14 skips into the surf. Even a moment of skipping stones can remind you to take the labels off of expectations and just savor the experience. For the next twenty minutes or so I tried my skill at breaks in the waves, perfect stones, and timely flicks. Again and again I was reminded that energy is a mystery and it will often deliver exactly what you don’t expect.

This morning I set out to do something that didn’t turn out the way I expected it to turn out. At first I was a bit frustrated because I had a plan in mind and I thought that somehow the plan had failed. Then I thought about skipping stones again and somehow everything made sense. Energy is an unpredictable force and acceptance of what it delivers can be a valuable moment in time. I decided to do exactly as I would have done regardless of external circumstances and not surprisingly I came out of it with a sense on contentment or as I called it earlier – “santosha.” It was a special moment, unexpectedly solo but not alone.

I’m sure today was a challenge for some and an amazing day for others. It just depends how the waves are “cresting” for you at any given time. One person’s valley is on the back side of another person’s crest. It’s the universal life force, right? Ebb and flow right? There is no wave that continues at the apex of its crest ad infinitum right?

Speaking of surfing, that’s another Zen experience or so I hear. I’ve tried but only stood up on a board once or twice. There are certain things or practices that invite a connection to the “Divine”. A special moment on the yoga mat. A trip down the slopes. A ride on a good wave. The trek across a European country. A perfect Tai Chi form. A cup of tea with a good friend. The right song coming on the radio at exact right moment. A walk with man’s best friend. The touch of a healing hand. Or maybe even a stone that skips just enough times to lose count, leaving the “skipper” thinking it went to infinity….



About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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