Flow and Balance

Flow and BalanceFlow and Flourish

~

 a creative dance

stones balancing in water

beauty or nuisance

~

I enjoy seeing some stone balance creations like the one above by Tim Anderson of Keystone Balance. I also believe it has become so popular that we are altering and harming environments in the name of free expression. I’d like to see stone balancing done with a sense of environmental sensitivity ala “leaving no trace” for hikers and campers in wilderness environments.

stone stacking nuisance

Thousands of rocks are stacked at Yosemite National Park. (Photo: National Parks Service)

From an aesthetic perspective, I enjoy seeing one or two stacks, but not whole fields of them like in the photo above. What do you think? Is stone balancing an art or public nuisance? Really, the answer is more complex. It can be art, and it can be a nuisance, or both, or neither depending on the care, scale, context, etc.

May we balance our need for creative expression with the greater need of caring for the planet. 

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43 thoughts on “Flow and Balance

  1. Hi Dear Brad. I love the first one…beauitful, peaceful and elegant. I hadn’t realised that the art of stone balancing had become such a craze which certainly loses it’s simply beauty when, as you say a whole field of them are crammed together ! Life is all about balance, and so the field of rocks…somehow loses that meaning:) Hope you are enjoying January. Janet :)x

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  2. A beautiful poem, Brad. When I sent to the beach last spring, it was windy and cold, so my daughter, grandson (age 5), and I spent our time making small balanced stone towers in a patch of sand. When it came time to head back to our room, my grandson was distraught that someone might come and knock down his stones. After a huge meltdown, we left. When we returned in the morning, not only had no one knocked down our little towers, but someone had added more. It was the sweetest thing and a lesson learned. I don’t mind the towers. So much better than graffiti. 🙂

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  3. the poem is beautiful brad. and you bring up a great question. does a bunch of these rock stacks become nature graffiti? or is it an individual expression of art? it may be about perspective, but i do also feel that when you see a lot it becomes less of an artistic expression and more of a thing people do to just follow what others have done and thought or intention may not be part of that equation, but rather operating on clan mentality of “do as you see done”. that said, i agree with D. Wallace Peach that i much prefer this than graffiti, although wonder how mother nature feels about that. perhaps if people were asking the stones and earth for permission and hearing her message they might be led more to what to do. in some ways it’s sweet to think that each is created by someone from who knows where that has left their presence there in the form of the rocks, but also brings to mind a question of how humans like to “own” everything and need so much to leave their mark behind – for example carving initials in trees and such, or simply turning beautiful land into something for their own idea of progress or ownership, rather than stewardship. definitely an interesting question to ponder that you bring up.

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    • Thanks for understanding Tania. I’d rather see kairns than graffiti too, but they do disturb local environments in the soil and water. I love your idea to ask and work with nature rather than simply building another creation without thought to its impact. I agree with you and native cultures who believe humans belong to nature rather than humans owning nature. Thanks for caring so deeply.

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    • Leave no trace is my practice while out balancing stones. When I’m finished, nobody knows that I’ve ever been there. Due to their delicate nature, mother earth typically reclaims them within an hour or less. If not I take them down after photographing them.

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      • I collected nearly 700 rocks years ago, and built a stone wall. Farmers’ fields, construction sites, road verges — wherever. They were all of different textures, sizes and shades and I picked each one because it was interesting. I fell in love with rocks then. So did frogs and chipmunks, who found the wall a great ‘hidey-place’. A later owner of that property dismantled the wall and used the rocks to crib the sides of the smaller stream, to stop erosion.

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      • Thanks for the wonderful reminder that things come and go Cynthia, even rocks! I too love rocks and have moved them around the country to use in gardens so I can’t claim to be innocent in this rock debate. 🙂

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  4. I may have mentioned this before but I first saw this at Arches – but it was more like one every mile (markers so that hikers don’t get lost- someone told
    me)…I didn’t realize that people are now just doing it for the sake of stone art…

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  5. A very interesting point Brad – I’ve never actually come across one of these, but I’ve seen examples of landscape art that I think are wonderful. But I can imagine that lots of these would dilute the impact of them as well as altering the environment unnaturally.

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  6. Good question, Brad. I think the first photo shows stone-balancing at its best – not too many stones are taken out of their own balance, to stack them. I don’t like “fields of stones” moved, for sure. A little goes a long way in the message of balance.

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  7. I love it! I remember in Arizona…I think it was in Sedona but I could be mistaken…we found a babbling brook that had (I think they called them prayer rocks) balanced all along the brook! It felt good to me to be there and we all worked on our own towering rock sculpture!
    Hope you are good, Brad!

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