My mom used to save all the bread bags for me, because I liked to fill them with rocks.
I grew up in a little town in Ohio, so my pickings were not all gravel, but they were mostly gravel. I essentially curated the best of the gravel—you know, those super sparkly, dusty white gravel rocks? Loved those.
I got a geode for Christmas once. It was intact, so you’d get to crack it open yourself to see the crystals inside. I remember my dad and I negotiating about the right way to do it—a hammer? A pick? Both? I just didn’t want to get it wrong. Over and over I’d decide, “Not just yet.” I think that geode is still intact in my mom’s attic somewhere.
One summer, all of us neighborhood kids built a “gypsy camp” in our backyard, out of sheets and cardboard. We found a can of gold spray paint in someone’s garage and went to town on some of my rocks. Currency.
My favorite Smithsonian? Easy—the Natural History Museum, geology and gems exhibit.
I brought one of my favorite rocks with me to college. I met a really cool guy there who had, incidentally, also brought his favorite rock to college. When I went to Vietnam that first summer, we swapped rocks. Through years of travel and time apart finding our paths, we both kept each other’s rocks—in our pockets, our favorite boxes, our top drawers. Ten years later we’re married, and I still consider those rocks to be the catalyst that sealed the deal.
I’ve been thinking about rock collecting lately, because last weekend I went on a women’s retreat in the fairyland that is the redwood forest. No cell phones or red wine—just tea parties, singing songs and foraging for cool rocks in the woods.
We kept joking that everything felt very #backtosix.
The irony of the fact that we were talking with hashtags in the woods made the situation even better. It was perfect because I’d read an article recently about how—now that we have smartphones—our minds are rarely idle, the way they used to be in all the in-betweens, and that it’s making us less creative.
“There’s a close link between originality, novelty and creativity—and these are the sort of spontaneous thoughts we generate when our minds are idle.”
As someone whose livelihood depends on creativity, I set two intentions for this year:
1. Go #backtosix as often as possible.
2. Find that geode in my mom’s attic and crack it open asap.
Author: Lindsey Witmer Collins
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Author’s own.