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Our Oldest Ancestors

There's something about a coming across an orchestration of rocks and boulders strewn in such a way that makes it seem it was by design. Just the right ledge, or wind and water carved cave. Jumbles of boulders with sandy walkways in between, or strewn in such a way that a stair step appears underneath each foot with nary a thought. Or just the line a group of boulders cuts across the horizon at they bubble up from a grassy meadow. I don't think there's a word to describe what occurs to me in those moments.


Where did I come from?

Those piles of boulders, or rockscapes.. sometimes a mountain, ridge or simple smattering of stone splayed out in a dry creek bed, they always seem familiar to me. Like I've seen that arrangement before even though the newness of such a noticing still has the curiosity of just being seen for the first time. I often think about this familiarity. Even going more to the base of that word; "familial."


I like to call rocks, especially the big old ones, my oldest ancestors; and it's not a stretch. Iron, Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Cobalt, Tungsten..even Gold! They are all in our bodies and in many cases considered an essential mineral. We often talk about our ancestral DNA as being an indicator of where our ancestors, our "people", came from. But even those ancient people came from somewhere too. But we have to go back.. way, way back, to consider where our ancestral minerals came from. Along with water, it is the rocks that hold the key to all life forming on our planet. Through aeons of erosion, chemical process, absorption, osmosis, and other processes, we have descended from the rocks of this planet. Without their nutrition which they have held from the first days of this planet forming, we would not be able to stay alive.


"Everything dreams. The play of form, of being, is the dreaming of substance. Rocks have their dreams, and the earth changes." - Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

When I place my hand on one of these ancient mineral leviathans, I dream hard with my imagination to make contact; the minerals in my skin recognizing some familial connection through the atomic vibration of the basic elements present in both entities of me and the impossibly old grandmother boulder. The rocks are speaking, in their own alchemic tongue of atomic vibration, casting of shadow and light, cooling and heating through the fire of star and vaccum of space when the Earth turns away. Their simple act of withstanding without moving, save for the occasional shrug of gravity or movement from muscle and machinery. If the rocks could talk, what could possibly be the narrative? When we think of wisdom from the elders, we think in relative terms of human application; DNA that is. Even now we are still stumped by our ancestors teachings and understanding of life a mere millennia ago. We couldn't even begin to hope to communicate with those ancestors from the pre-language days and what understanding of life and the conundrum of existence they were experiencing. So what of the message of the rocks?


I feign semblance of possible cognition. Something about stillness and timelessness. Something about simply being witness without language, without consciousness. Already I am lost in this concept. Something within me strains against the idea of an eternity of observation, of the slow erosion of self until becoming one with the sands drifting from one berm into another, each grain a part of the granular whole carrying it's own story of what it was like to be sloughed off of the oneness to become and individual moving with the wind. Does a grain of sand then eternally strive to be reconnected to the one? And if it were, would it then realize that it is only one with only one of billions of boulders all over the planet? Where does the memory of such an ancient creation reside?


But perhaps in the rock language, there is no striving. No sense of separateness or wholeness. Even the rocks came from somewhere before the planet coalesced. Specks traveling through the darkness of space, spliced of a roiling, bright fireball sent cascading out, dreaming of new destination in an undestined void. Traveling nonetheless. With a vision of stillness through transformation. A familiar feeling derived from an experience yet to arrive. Perhaps this is the mineral mind that is gifted by our rock ancestors.

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