Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Learning to Tumble Rocks

There is no way to overstate how much material there is on the internet.

More and more when I want to write about something, I think, "Nope. Not worth throwing it into the landfill."  So I don't - I save it as conversational barter for dinnertime, or a shared subway ride, trade it for a morsel of what he did and thought about during the day, and then I move past it, onto dessert or into a tunnel. 

And I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd been able to save it up and lay it like an egg.  Fully formed and new and capable of taking on a life of its own, maybe. Instead, it's like I took someone else's egg and cracked it open into a hot soup or a skillet where there was already a lot going on.  I poached the egg.

I had a neighbor growing up for whom I'd fish-sit when they went to Mazatlan.  They had a whole glass table in their living room covered in really shiny, smooth rocks.  The rocks fascinated me with their glossy stripes, their marbled curves, reds and greens and grays.  They were edgeless, and dirtless. They weren't even really rocks anymore - they were objects worthy of the glass table in the living room.

I liked them so much that I got a rock tumbling machine for my next birthday.

Rock tumbling is a fairly involved process, I learned: there is a multi-step procedure involving variations of sand of varying grit and multiple rounds of sending the rocks around and around in their little rock washing machine. The box came with the tumbler, plastic bags of the required sand, and even rocks. 
For my birthday, as a kid, I got rocks in a box.  Because I asked for them.
Dad helped me follow the instructions, and before long, dozens of little ugly rocks were getting polished in our garage. 
To be fair, I am not sure we tumbled for the prescribed amount of time.  Or maybe we did, and the tumbler wasn't powerful enough to do the job, but regardless, my rocks came out with sand splotches, their colors still dulled, gunk in their grooves. They were still just rocks, and now they looked like they had a disease.
Definitely not glass table in the living room material.

My patience exhausted, I scurried on to softball practice or swim lessons, my novelty eraser collection. Roller blades.

I didn't really love the book Gone Girl but, the narrator and main character, Nick Dunne, is an out of work writer who struggles with the transition to a digital media dominated world.  A world in which, he gripes, writers don't write well and often give their work away for free.  And that as a writer, he prefers to work slowly and build a story or arc and that he doesn't think or work fast enough for what modern journalism and authorship has become.  (Was that from that book?  Or did Joan Didion say it?  Did she say it, too? Or first?)
Regardless, I am beginning to understand this.  The internet is full of half-tumbled rocks. 
And so is my head.

With getting older, I am learning to enjoy sliding into a bathtub of liquid knowledge, lips bubbling below, soaking in the warmth of learning something deeply - of loving it deeply.  Of loving a subject enough that I pick up another book about it.  Of loving an author enough to read their bibliography. Of loving myself enough to go to the gym when I don't want to. Of loving an idea enough to still, over a year later, be committed to not eating meat. Of loving a man long enough to let him love my raw scrapes and silliness. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I liked your story about you've met John Mayer and I shared it with my followers on instagram. Now we're wonderig if you're still a fan of his music and how you feel about him today? Xx Julia