I went for a run/walk along Boulder Creek yesterday. First springlike day I’ve seen around here this year. People were out playing chess in the grass, feeding ducks, tossing sticks into the creek for their Retrievers to… retrieve.
Up just past the kayak course on the west end of town, I saw something strange: cairn-like piles of rocks within the creek. Tons of them. 30 or more precariously balanced piles of four, five, six, or more rocks. Some of them looked impossible – a flat rock balanced just so on the tippy-top of an angular stone beneath, looking like it really should be rocking in a gentle breeze. Arches of rocks like architectural entryways, rainbowing over space from one boulder to another.
It was beautiful – even moreso because it was temporary. The creek is soon going to rise, and all of these carefully placed arrangements are going to tumble down back into the water, back to another chaotic arrangement like the one they came from.
I stood there, touched that someone had taken so much time to create something so unexpected, beautiful, and temporary. So much effort for something that will exist for only a short while!
And then I realized: this is what we as performing artists do all the time. We put heart and soul into writing or learning or programming or perfecting music. We go through the heartache of building bands and trying to keep the chaos out – trying to keep the cairns piled up, so to speak. We lug the PA out of the basement, into the car, to the gig, and back again. We work at other jobs to supplement the gig income. Then we sing or play for a few minutes or a few hours, creating something beautiful – but momentary, and completely irreplaceable.
Sometimes I feel like the effort that goes into a gig isn’t worth it. These cairns reminded me that it is.
And now for the paradox: Even though a cairn in a river – or a gig, or a band, or a life lived – is only temporary, it ALL still has permanence because everything affects people and events downstream. Those cairns affected me, perhaps I have affected you, and perhaps you’ll affect yet still others. See the ripples spreading?
(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn