Spring launched today and Walden vibrated with her energy as a relaxed crowd of visitors sprawled along the sand, strung like beads around the perimeter of the pond. With them they bought volleyballs, soccer balls, ping pong, frisbees, fishing rods, bikes or just their sneakers, jettisoned so bare feet could test the water, still too cold for swimmers…
Yet when I left the main beach and meandered around to the far side of the pond, the crowd and carnival atmosphere thinned. It was replaced instead by the silent endeavor of a figure clad in black, deftly stepping in the ankle deep water of Ice Fort Cove. He was looking for stones to build his cairns.
I stopped to talk to the young man and learnt that apart from needing a stone with three points on which it could balance, the main skills required were patience and perseverance. “And perhaps a steady hand,” I added.
I was surprised when the young man told me without any animosity that often the cairns he built were knocked over purposely, “because you wouldn’t want one of those rocks to land on your foot, would you…” he explained. I wondered why I would be a target for one landing on me if I was minding my own business and just walking by, but that was not the point.
What I was really astonished by was what I thought to be the Buddhist attitude of this young man.
After taking all this time and effort to build these structures, he seemed perfectly fine with the notion that they would be destroyed.
Thanking him for his time I continued on my walk deciding there was more than patience, perseverance and a steady hand to the building of cairns. The secret lay centered inside the psyche of the builder himself.