This past week, I was at Haley Farms in Clinton, Tennessee, the former home of author Alex Haley. It is a serene place. Before I got there, I’d frown to hear people refer to the expansive piece of land as “holy ground,” but I get it now. There is something especially sacred about the space. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about science. Kind of.
While at the farm, one of the guys I was with harkened to the days of his child hood and skipped rocks in the large pond that’s at the center of the farm’s campus. I’ve never been able to skip rocks. It seems so easy, but I’ve never been able to pull it off and marveled at the people I’d see doing it, when I had occasion.
“I want to do it!” I said excitedly to Mr. Nostalgic Rock Skipper, right after he propelled one to jump five times across the pond.
“OK,” he said. “Get a rock.”
I picked up a rock, and he said matter of factly, “Naw. That ain’t gone work. It’s gotta be a flat rock.”
We searched along the rock path upon which we’d walked until we found three as-flat-as-geologically-possible-considering-we-were-running-late-for-our-next-workshop rocks. He took one, and I took the other two.
Skip, skip, skip, his rock went, when he showed me what to do.
Kerplunk. Kerplunk. My two rocks went.
“Guess I’ll never be able to,” I said, shrugging my shoulders to indicate I didn’t care one way or another. My spirit knew my shoulders’ shrugging betrayed the truth of my effort.
The last day at the farm, Mr. Nostalgic Rock Skipper and another friend of ours walked past the pond, he impetuously picked up a couple (flat) rocks and walked over to skip them. Our friend said she’d never skipped rocks before, and Mr. NRS said she’d better try it now, since she could.
She picked up a rock, and I said, “No! It has to be a flat rock!”
“I didn’t know it mattered,” she said.
“Neither did I,” I told her.
The three of us stared at the ground, searching for flat rocks. The professional among us picked up five.
He showed her what to do, explaining to her just as he had to me, with an example.
Kerplunk. Kerplunk. Both of her rocks sunk to the bottom heavily.
Then he handed me two, admonishing me to try again. “Just do it!” he said. “Try it one more time.”
I rolled my eyes, and took the rocks in my hand. I cavalierly sent the first one to the middle of the pond and it, like the others kerplunked.
Second try. I put the rock between my fingers and prepared to toss it. Mr. NRS said, “Hold it like this,” as he positioned the rock. He made a fist, the rock rested on his middle finger, and his thumb and index finger held it in place. (Science.)
“See?” he questioned.
To make myself feel better, I said to myself, “That’s how I was holding the other ones,” but I couldn’t have been. That was pride talking. There’s erudition to the rock-skipping bit that I didn’t respect and all but ignored. Had I held the other rocks that way, they would have skipped instead of kerplunking.
Nodding, I decided to take my rock-skipping venture more seriously. I firmly planted my feet under the lush green grass on the bank of the pond, angled my body just so and held the rocks the way Mr. NRS instructed me.
Skip, skip. “I DID IT!” I screamed. “It skipped twice!”
My instructor hadn’t seen it; he’d turned his back, probably expecting a kerplunk. Our friend confirmed it, though. “She did it!”
Ever since that, I’ve been thinking, “There’s a science to everything.”
We don’t have to respect the science. We cannot acknowledge the science, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Does this mean that we don’t make heartfelt decisions or ones based on our intuition? Does it mean faith has no part in our lives? Nope. Not at all. But there is a science to everything.
I wonder what other sciences it would behoove me to learn.