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LJI:20 Shibusa
A young girl, visiting a formal garden with family, picked up a rock and put it in her pocket to bring home.

The rock had been at the base of a delicate footbridge over a small stream.  It was smooth on one face and rough on the others, not quite oval-shaped, with several shades of grey flowing into each other and pink veining throughout.

At her house the girl put the rock on a shelf with her other treasures: a shell from the sea, a ribbon won at games, a toy horse from the fair, a flower picked months before.  Sometimes she played with her treasures and sometimes she kept them neatly displayed.  As she grew up some items were traded out for others, but the rock always remained.

The rock on the shelf was just one of many treasures.

The girl, now older, gave the rock to her best friend to be a talisman of their bond.  The boy kept the rock most often in the pocket of whatever he was wearing that day.  He regularly held the rock, either slowly stroking the smooth face, or worrying at the rougher edges.  It was a grounding point for a life in need of one.

The rock in the pocket was quietly itself, allowing the boy to focus on being the same.

The boy gave the rock to a boyfriend, explaining that holding it got him through horrible times and gave him courage, but now he knew he could hold on to their love instead.  The boyfriend put the rock in his sock drawer; he didn’t like clutter.  But he saw the rock every day and was reminded that simple things could have deep meaning.

The rock in the drawer was a reflection of love and choice.

The boyfriend, with permission, gave the rock to his mother while telling her the story of who he really was.  The mother took in the story and the rock, slightly bewildered by both and not quite certain what to do with either, not yet.  The rock was placed on an entry table and was bumped around by keys and envelopes, purses and gloves.  But when it was knocked to the floor it was always picked back up.

The rock on the table was an everyday item, neither noticed nor forgotten.

The mother passed the rock on to her aunt who was known for collecting small bits of nature.  The aunt brought the rock home, and carefully gave it all of her attention.  Once she felt she had really seen it she placed it on the small table her husband jokingly called an altar, arranging it so that its roughness reflected the rough of the tree bark next to it, and the pink was accented by the candle she sometimes burned.

The rock on the altar was an echo of the natural world, a new part of an ever-changing pattern.

The aunt explained the altar to her grandson, how she had come by each piece and what they meant to her.  She allowed him to pick one thing for himself; he picked the rock.  The grandson never had a set place for the rock; sometimes he carried it with him in his backpack, sometimes it was in a place of honor on his night-table, and sometimes it drifted under the bed until he was made to clean and found it again.

The grandson went on a school trip to a formal garden.  He sat by the base of a small bridge, trying to look as bored as the cool kids, but secretly delighting in the careful order around him.  He dug into the bottom of his backpack, hoping the rock was there today.  Finding it, he looked for a place where it would fit, marking this garden with something of his own.  He knew his grandmother would approve.

The rock left in the garden was a silent declaration of understanding, and of the artist he wanted to become.

The rock had changed in the time it was away.  The roughness was no longer so rough; the smoothness was marked with small scratches.  The pink seemed somehow brighter, and one band of dark grey much more distinct.  But it still matched and enhanced the bridge as it was now; filling in an imperceptible small space that had been lacking in the time it was away.

The rock, back where it started, remains perfect in its new imperfections.

***This is my take on shibusa for LJ IdolThis week we also are working with partners, the fabulous barrelofrain is writing on intersubjectivity and you can find their piece here; we each created a fable about inanimate things. And have a link to the topic thread so you can read them all!***

Oh! This is so wonderfully done! An extended kind of koan. Just delightful and rhythmic and punctuated with visuals! I loved it very much.

Thank you so much. I kept reading this one out loud as I worked on it, so I'm glad the rhythm came through. I am a person who picks up rocks (I got it from my mom), once I read about Shibusa I knew what I wanted to tell.

This was fabulous. I enjoyed the journey of the rock back to the place it was taken from. I loved what the rock meant to the different people who held it.

This started from the idea of following a rock, and knowing that it had to finish in the same place it began. As a person who picks up rocks, it was interesting to look at what one could mean through different eyes. Thanks for the kind words.

The boyfriend, with permission, gave the rock to his mother while telling her the story of who he really was. The mother took in the story and the rock, slightly bewildered by both and not quite certain what to do with either, not yet.

This was a stand-out line in a fantastic piece. :)

Thank you! Interestingly those two, the boyfriend and the mother, stayed almost exactly the same through every draft of this, centering everything else.

It was a grounding point for a life in need of one.

I used to have one of these in my pocket at all times. I always wondered how the rock felt about me.

I've used a variety of objects as reminders or grounding points, though interestingly never a rock. A thing to hold on to can make all the difference.

This is so wonderfully executed. The descriptions and the word flow .... " The rock, back where it started, remains perfect in its new imperfections " - such a beautiful understanding of Shibusa. Well done

Thank you so much, I have a feeling all of us who wrote on Shibusa are going to understand each others' pieces a little more deeply since we dug into the definition more.
I read this out loud over and over again for flow, I'm glad to know it worked for you.

This is beautiful. I loved how the rock changes hands so often, and why, and wound up back where it started from. :)

Thank you. I knew I wanted the rock to go in a circle, but finding good reasons for people to pass on something that was important was tricky - a few of those hand-offs were written and re-written. I'm glad the exchanges worked.

I really like the arc of all the owners of the rock-- and why-- and that it eventually returned exactly to the place it came from. :)

Thank you. A few of those people changed a lot through versions of this, the thing I knew was that the rock had to return.

This is a wonderful entry. I love what you did with the rock, and how it wound up back in the garden after touching the lives of so many people. Your story had a great feel to it.

Thank you. My family does this (my nephew gave me a special shell to take back to CA with me during my last visit) and I really wanted to capture that sense of importance we can impart to a thing.

This is beautiful, and I love the way the rock ended where it had started.

Thank you. Figuring out where the rock was so I could get it to start and end in the same place took a while, I'm glad it worked for you.

What a great journey. :)

Sometimes the journey is the point, right?

I love this! I was hoping someone good would really take shibusa on this way, and I'm glad you did.

Thank you; I read this comment before I got on the train this morning and your "someone good" had me grinning the whole trip to work. I really appreciate it, especially from someone good like you!

Bravo! This snippet is so wonderfully realized. Excellent full circle! :-) And it has a real rhythmic resonance, too.

I realized early on that the rhythm of this was going to be vital, and spent a lot of time reading it out loud to make it work. At least once I knew I needed another sentence in a place; I had no idea what it would say, but that there had to be more words. It was odd, yet nifty.

I enjoyed the circle of life of the rock..especially the little stories that got associated with it...Good Job..well written indeed..:)

Thank you. I'm hoping the rock - which is still pocket sized - gets picked up by someone else eventually.

I love everything about this. I love the beauty of the rock, of its places, of the space it holds for the people who keep it, of the stories it knows, of the strength it carries. This is truly a wonderful piece, elegant in it simplicity. Really well done, here.