The Power of Throwing a Stone

The worst part of being sick is not knowing when the turnaround will come. “Is today the worst day? Am I still going down? Or am I already on my way back up?” If you knew in advance that next Wednesday will be your low point, getting to — and through — Wednesday would be a lot easier.

But that’s not how life works, is it? Sometimes, you think you’re on the road to recovery only to get doubly smacked down 24 hours later. Yesterday was that day for me. The 50%-drop before the eventual bottom-formation.

With what felt like only a third of my brain power, I was in cruise control for most of the day. At 5:30 PM, I lugged myself out of the house for a short walk. I’d slept poorly the night before, and I thought air, sun, and a few steps might do the trick.

While slowpoke-ing across a rough meadow, I spotted some stones on the ground next to a tree. For whatever reason, I really felt like throwing one. I picked up a handful and chucked them into the nearby bushes. It was such a small, insignificant event — literally a throwaway gesture — and yet, it felt like the most productive thing I did all day.

For even the shortest of moments, the physical act of picking up a rock and giving it a new location reminded me that I could still affect the world around me. I could still change things. Sure, my power to do so was severely diminished right now, but eventually, that power would come back. In the meantime, the most important task might be to not forget it existed in the first place.

Was that moment my inflection point? One day later, it surely seems so, but who knows? Life loves to play games like that. First crushing our expectations only to reward them shortly thereafter. If the result are more humble winners, I guess the grand design works. Until I find out for sure, however, I’ll take the small achievement.

There’s that whole thing in the Bible about not casting the first stone, and when it comes to people, no matter what kind of house you’re sitting in, that’s always true. But if it’s a rock you want to skip across a lake for old time’s sake or a small pebble tossed into the bushes to show yourself that you can still do something, anything, really, those take on a different meaning entirely.

On the right days, there’s power even in throwing a stone, and small gestures rarely fail to make a difference.