Friday, October 3, 2008

Collecting rocks

Last week the girls next door were in my house. One of them was at the computer, e-mailing her summer camp friends. The other one had nothing to do, so I showed her my rock collection. She asked me,"Why did you pick this one?" And so, I told her exactly why I picked many of the rocks, what is was that I looked for that made it a "collection", and what made some particularly special to me. I didn't think much of this.

Later that day, she and her friend knocked on my door. "Come outside", she said, in an excited tone. On my table, outdoors, was a big collection of rocks. They had spent the entire afternoon looking (and collecting) rocks! She wanted to give them all to me, but I said "Why don't you keep them yourself?" and "Maybe your friend would like some."

The friend seemed awestruck. "Can I really have one?", she said. I told her she could have as many as she wanted, but she seemed too shy to accept more than one, as if I was giving her a really big present. She picked one small stone. My neighbor said, "But I thought you liked this one!" as she pointed to another small mottled gray stone. "Well, I do, but. . ." I had to argue, "Take it! C'mon!"

And so, both girls went away with a few small treasures. I still have a pile of rocks on my table outside.

Later on, I thought about this and realized just how special it was. In a fairly recent post I mentioned that I collected rocks when I was a kid and that I still do. It later occurred to me how important it was to show kids that there are precious things that don't have to be purchased. A simple walk through the woods can yield enormous treasures - beautiful leaves, seed pods, old bird's nests, lichens (with which you can dye things!) - the list goes on and on.

Sadly, it seems that this type of activity is yet another one of those things, like drawing pictures, that people put away when they become grown-ups, unless one has some sort of specialist's reason for doing it. So, many kids think that the really good stuff is the stuff that adults go out and buy, and that they have little access to.

And whydo we stop encouraging kids to draw and play instruments once they get near puberty? Ah, yes, one mustn't waste one's time on anything that one isn't exceptional at. At around the age of 12, this society starts to impose it's "get thee into a box" mentality on kids. What a shame.

Photo note: Some of my rock collection.

And yes, I'm still blogging.


Anonymous said...

Why, you ask? Because western societies are based on materialism and most of our productive time should be spent either making money or spending it... Just look how far it's gotten us.
I heard today in an interview with a neuroscientist that before the age of one, almost everyone has a perfect pitch. Later it goes away, probably because there's "no use" for it... I want my perfedt pitch back!

Julie H. Rose said...

Do you know which neuroscientist said this? I'm quite interested.

Buckminster Fuller said that this society "de-geniuses" children.

I guess it does way more than that, from what you wrote.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to that interview, it aired on Fresh Air on Friday.