For this exercise you’ll need to get yourself a rock. It should be small enough to fit in your pocket, but beyond that your choice of rock should be completely arbitrary. Don’t pick your rock because its pretty or interests you, just grab the first random rock you see.
Plan to carry your rock with you for the next 7 days. It should be with you at all times, day and night, wherever you may go. During this time you should take every opportunity to get to know your rock. Hold it in your hand. Fidget with it in your pocket. Get to know it’s weight and texture.
Study your rock. Examine it’s every detail. The variations in shape, color, and composition. Learn about your rock. Find out what kind of rock it is. Perhaps how old it might be. Where it came from and how it came to be where you found it.
Nothing in the world has any significance until you give it significance.
Why would you spend your time doing such a thing?
When we feel lost and disconnected from the world, and other people, including our partners. When we cannot find a purpose for our own lives. When everything seems boring and pointless. These feelings of being alienated and isolated from the rest of society come from a lack of significance. More specifically, a lack of understanding.
Significance isn’t an inborn property of things. It doesn’t come about randomly or mysteriously. It’s not a product of fate, and circumstance has less effect towards it than you might think. No, significance is a byproduct of learning. It comes from exposure and understanding.
We personally determine the significance of everyone and everything we encounter by our willingness, and effort, to understand them/it. More importantly, anyone and anything can become significant if they/it can hold our attention long enough. This is where your rock comes into play.
Everything and everyone of significance in our lives is significant because we understand — or at least believe we understand — their details. This understanding is achieved naturally through exposure, and more profoundly through an active effort on our part to understand.
Our friends and families are significant to us because we understand them through long term exposure. Our work is significant to us because we had to learn and understand the skills in order to perform it. Our favorite books, TV shows, and movies are significant to us because we’ve invested hours in them, absorbing every detail, coming to understand the plots and characters.
Even a basic understanding of something changes, in some way, how you see everything.
Over the course of seven days, if you sincerely strove to understand your rock, you should have a learned a little bit about geology — what it’s made out of, how it was formed, maybe even something about the history of our planet. Depending on where you got your rock perhaps you learned something about the gravel industry or landscaping.
Maybe this knowledge won’t play a huge role in all your future decision making. But through your exposure and your efforts, your random uninteresting rock has seeded some significance. At the very least you’ll never absently walk past a pile of gravel again without thinking about what you learned from your rock.
The point here is that, by opening yourself up to understand more about a stone, you’ve learned an invaluable skill: The ability to create significance.
If you embrace and expand on this concept, nothing will ever again be pointless or boring. If you’re willing to look, there’s some fascination in everything, no matter how minor. Now you can begin to share an understanding of things with others, a step towards not feeling like an outsider.
More importantly, if we turn this skill inward and seek to better understand ourselves — what makes up our composition and how we came to be where we find ourselves — we create our own significance.
And you learned all that from a little rock.
Your life is an adventure worth living,