I love heart-shaped rocks. I have collected them my whole life. From river beds and woodland streams; to hiking trails and mountain summits; to ocean and lake shores and sometimes even digging in my own backyard. I distinctly remember the very first one I ever found when I was ten years old. It was in Granite Creek in my childhood home of Prescott, Arizona. My brothers and I used to love to trench through the creek after the rains when we were a foot deep in run-off. Days later when the creek ran dry, we’d quite often find a multitude of treasures washed down by the current and deposited in between rocks along the creek bed. Trinkets, toys, coins and colored glass….I even found an old vintage doll once. But one bright day, while trekking through the muck, I happened to glance down and to my surprise, there in between two large and muddy rocks was the most perfectly symmetrical heart-shaped rock….
As I picked it up, I imagined that it had some secret power and I was meant to find it that day. It was a smooth, dark igneous rock with tiny white speckles that I thought of as freckles…..just like mine. I carried that rock in my pocket for the whole summer and I swear to this day that it brought me a sense of peace when things were not going right. Some days I would hold it when I was sad or afraid and some days I would just keep rubbing it, like Aladdin and his lamp….hoping it would bring me luck…(or at least three wishes.) Such is the life of an imaginary ten- year-old.
My search for heart shaped rocks has continued for over 40 years now. Whenever I am out in nature, I find myself searching for them. Sometimes, when I seem to be looking too hard, I usually come up empty. Yet, sometimes I’ll glance one way just for a moment and then back….and suddenly a rock will just seem to show a little gleam so that I notice it among the many rocks, just waiting for me to pick it up. By and large, these rocks have more often seemed to find me.
Gradually over four decades, I’ve realized that my search for heart shaped rocks has taken on a sense of the metaphoric. Like life lessons learned, there were times when I was looking so hard I’d find nothing, only to look away and then slightly glance beyond my periphery and what I’d been looking for would just show up in my world….usually when I was not paying attention. Sometimes, I’d find answers in the most peculiar and unexpected places.
Over the years, I have seen both family and friends struggle, those of us searching so hard to find strength, courage and purpose, yet it all seems to elude us. It made me think: Is this the path we must follow to find and understand the simple things in life—when we’re looking so hard that we can’t seem to see the forest through the trees? Is this the secret to life’s wonderment and surprise? That constant pull on our hearts for “the true meaning of everything.”
It is that wonderment and surprise that shows up “out the of blue” when I witness my 4 yr old grandson playfully having a “zen-like” conversation with his toy alligator or when my 26 yr old daughter tells me she wants to marry someone who “has the ability to express love in the way she has seen her parents do with each other her whole life.”
I don’t know for sure, but I think this is the closest I have ever come to experiencing TRUE LOVE …and maybe if I “do it right and pay it forward” this true love becomes a generational legacy…
In any case, I will forever be on the lookout for my heart-shaped rocks…and sometimes waiting for them to find me…until my dying day….maybe before then though, I can take my grandkids on the search with me…who knows what we’ll find together…
~ Mick E. ~