You know that rock that was right here? Little old hunk of granite, looks like it was smoothed in a river?

One day a few years back, I was in a bad place. Lost my job because my company had invested in someone who’d invested in the real estate bubble. Family left me for someone who was employed, and the bank who’d started it all was kind enough to foreclose on my house before it failed.

So I found myself alone, without prospects, with nothing but the clothes on my back and a few things in storage, faced with the prospect of walking or hitching across the county to my sister’s to beg for a couch to sleep on. Well, you might say that I was a little angry about that, so when I found that stone in the lot of a Huddle House I couldn’t afford to eat in, I gave it a mighty kick.

It felt so good that I resolved to try and kick it along with me as I started my walk, if for no other reason than to give me something to do. As I went along, I noticed that that little stone traveled an arrow-straight line when I kicked at it, unlike most. And I got to thinking about the journey it must have taken to be in that parking lot. I’d been a bit of a rock hound in my youth, so I imagined the whole thing, from cooled magma to grinding under a glacier to polishing in a river.

In fact, that little old rock was a lot like me. It had been beaten up in every which way you’d care to imagine, but it had taken everything the universe could throw at it.

When I got to my sister’s, I just kept on going, kicking the rock as I went. You might say it was zen, or a ritual, or even one of those obsessive compulsions. But for me it was like having a brother along for the journey, one that could understand my pain and, unlike my real brother, let you get a word in edgewise. Before long people heard about what I was doing, and they started to offer me food and shelter along the way.

I walked 1000 miles, kicking that little stone every step of the way, until I reached the sea here not three days ago. They say it’s a record, and for all I know they may be right. It didn’t much matter to me; what mattered was that I had a purpose. I had carved out a little niche for myself, and that rock had formed a new me much as nature had given it new form over however many thousands of years.

So naturally you can imagine, given all that, how perturbed I am that you just tossed my 1000-mile stone into the Atlantic Ocean.

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