Pebble or Seed


You can ignore the pebble in your shoe for only so long.

While hiking in Colorado, a tiny pebble made its way into my shoe. It was Day 1 of a too-brief weekend retreat; I was intent on exploring when I first noticed and ignored it.

Up the paths, over the stream where the prayer flags sway, and onward to the Stupa. I didn’t want to stop and deal with this annoyance. There was too much to see.

Eventually, I emptied the shoe. One stone the size of kiwi seed fell out. That tiny rock had enough impact to distract from a lively conversation and the mountain graces.

While retying my shoe, I thought, “what took me so long to deal with this?”

Cue up the epiphany.

Why do we stall and wait to deal with little things that distract and cause us pain?

As a runner (ambler), I’ve ignored pebbles enough to know that it is always a good idea to empty the shoe as soon as you are aware of the stone. Ignoring a pebble ends in nasty blisters, distracted running, and other unnecessary maladies. When I foolishly rationalize the pebble has moved out of the danger zone, my prize becomes a near hobbling bruise/blister/cut on my heel. Oh boy. So not worth any delay.

We learn to purchase good snug-fitting shoes, helpful lacing contortions, and a pebble-deflecting kick. Despite our best efforts, the pebbles still come. And as we allow irritants to remain in our steps, we invite unnecessary “optional pain.”

What if we bravely

  • risked the extra seconds to empty our shoes so our long-term run is better
  • talked with the person who is a lodged stone in our world instead of pretending everything is okey-dokey or ignoring them
  • stuck with our budgets and savings plan rather than dribble away our resources on tiny nothings
  • took the time to read with the kids, create the meals, ask for help, write the letter, pay the bills, go for the first walk, reach out for a first kiss, put down the smartphone, drink more water, laugh wholeheartedly, offer the sincere apology…instead of letting guilt and dithering become so great that our pain seems terminal?

What if we look at the pebbles in our shoes as seeds of action, conversation, teaching, and opportunity; opportunity to slow down, deal with the issues at hand, and prepare for our adventures ahead?

Those annoying wee bits may never grow into the boulders hobbling our days.

Freedom may find space in our lives to flourish (and spill over to others).

Peace just might take root and calm our harried hurried lives.

Our relationships may become fertile soil where good and welcome grow.

These days, I do not claim to know much. I know my budget needs a redo and my smartphone needs its own vacation. The apartment needs a washing up. And I know that ignoring the rocks will potentially hobble us.


Slip Slidin Away – thanks Paul Simon

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