River of Stones


A small stone is a very short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.

There are no strict rules for what makes a piece of writing a small stone, as there are for forms such as haiku. The process of finding small stones is as important as the finished product – searching for them will encourage keeping eyes (and ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind) open and mind awake.

Small stones are everywhere, all of the time. All you have to do is pause and let them appear. You’ll know when you see one, because it will set off a small burst of feeling inside you. It might be that you really notice the ugliness of a piece of chewed gum on the pavement, or the beauty of a pigeon, or vice versa. An overheard snippet of conversation might strike you as amusing, or strange. Whatever you notice, you will be noticing it with fresh eyes.

My life flies by too quickly. I need these stones. Here are the first two I’ve noticed (more to come) …

A soaring, swooping flock of birds, all in unison like a wave, swerves and dives around the traffic circle, not as if to mock those more earthbound, but instead to invite a sense of airy disentanglement among beloved companions. Move as one, in effortless concert, and feel the lofty freedom of mindful flight.

Cold wind, sinking deep into already weary bones … seems almost an offense. Hands stiffen, whiten, hurt. Lungs rush to warm frozen breath, tears crystallize with each blink. The older it gets, the more my body abhors the cold. There is no zen embrace of its suffering, no simple detachment available. It must be endured, head lowered, pressing forward… into Spring.


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