Once upon a time there was a pebble. Just a pebble. A very normal pebble. It was round and smooth, greyish-whitish, with a few very pretty silver speckles that it would have been quite proud of, if it could have thought about such things. But it couldn’t. Because it was a pebble and pebbles don’t have brains. Everybody knows that. But for the purpose of this story let’s give the pebble a name. Let’s call it Pebble.
Pebble sat patiently on the bottom of a small stream for a long time. The stream was in a beautiful mountain valley, with a couple of lakes at the top, trees and bushes near the water, and a handful of overly luxurious, overly large, frequently uninhabited vacation homes at the bottom. Winding up the valley, from the houses to the lakes, was a small and very lovely trail. It was crafted just so. It wound up and it wound down and everyone who walked upon it remarked on its clever design and wonderful views.
Pebble was unaware of any of this. He (can I call him a he?) sat on the bottom of the stream and was rolled forward by the pressure of the water on him. During the winter he moved very little. The stream was frozen after all and the fish were all asleep and it was like he was asleep too. He would nestle in a little cranny, amongst the other pebbles, and they would all sleep together.
During the spring he would burst into activity, bouncing and dancing down the stream bed, moving along with all his friends, slowly becoming more round, more polished, and just a bit more like all the other round, polished pebbles that surrounded him. You could think of the stream like a giant rock tumbler. At the top, the rocks were sharp and large, having fallen freshly off of the surrounding cliffs. They had individuality and character. At the bottom the rocks had been turned into pebbles – round and smooth. They all looked alike, with only small differences in color and character. All of this change was accomplished by the power of the water in the stream. The rocks didn’t actually dance you see, they were pushed along by the water, bouncing and dancing because of the swirls and eddies and the unrelenting pressure of all that melting snow and ice. There is very little that water cannot do if it is given enough time to do it.
One day Pebble was pushed to the side of the stream during a very strong rush of melting snow and then he was left there to dry in the sun. He no longer moved. Well not much anyway. And if he had had any thoughts you might say that he was bored. His friends moved on without him but he had new friends. All around him were rocks that had also been pushed aside by the stream, exposed to the weather, no longer in the womb, expelled into the real world. But he had no thoughts, so he wasn’t bored and he didn't worry at all about his friends, either old or new. He just sat there and weathered.
Pablo the Fairy was tired. Very tired. He’d been up to no good for what seemed like hours now. A lot of hours. So many hours… His feet dragged on the ground and his little wings lay limp. He hated walking but his wings were done. Completely done. He’d been flying for … well hours. And they were just completely out of juice. The only way to get more juice was to let the sun charge them back up again. So he walked, his wings behind him, catching sunlight and sparkling faintly as they sucked up energy.
Pablo wished he could suck up some energy. He had none left. First he’d gone into a huge vacation home and tickled the feet of every person who lived there. While they were sleeping! He’d woken them up and then he’d giggled about it. There’d been only two people in that monstrous castle of a house and they’d both been monstrously old, but he’d take what he could get. Four whole feet tickled! Then he’d sprinkled a little pepper into the nose of a cat. That was pure fun. It had sneezed and yowled and run about the yard until someone had to let it in, where it had hid under the bed for the rest of the night.
He’d spent the entire night causing problems. That was a night well spent. But now he was so very tired. All he wanted to do was go home, curl up into a little fairy ball and go to sleep so he could do it all over again tomorrow. It was a good life, he had to admit it.
As he walked, his pouch of fairy dust bounced along at his hip. He hardly noticed it because it weighed almost nothing. The fairy dust, in fact, weighed less than nothing. That was the beauty of fairy dust, it didn’t obey any of the rules of physics that you are used to. Gravity means nothing to fairy dust. The Earth can’t pull on it, wind can’t move it, and water can’t make it wet. The only thing that fairy dust obeys is intention. When Pablo would pull fairy dust out of his pouch with his hand, he wasn’t actually touching the dust, because it ignores the electromagnetic force, and his hand would go right through it if he wasn’t concentrating on the right intention. So when Pablo picked up fairy dust, he concentrated on his intention to pick it up and the fairy dust obeyed his will and pretended like it was being picked up – nestling in his hand in a fair imitation of normal.
But it wasn’t normal. Not even close. Fairy dust is magic. Everyone knows that.
Sometimes fairy dust has its own intention. Did you know that? If so, good for you, because not many people do. You have to be pretty well steeped in fairy lore to know that fairy dust will sometimes, very rarely, but just often enough to be interesting, make a decision on its own.
This was one of those times.
While Pablo dragged his feet up the lovely trail in the beautiful valley, next to the lively stream, on his way home to his little nook in a tree, part-way up a large, grey cliff, the fairy dust decided on something. The fairy dust decided it wanted to make a little trouble of its own. It only seems fair, right? Pablo had been having so much fun, the fairy dust wanted to have a little fun too. So it drifted out of the pouch and a few small, sparkling, speckles floated behind Pablo for a moment before drifting lightly down onto Pebble.
Pebble woke up. Not all the way awake mind you. He’d been sleeping for a very long time. Millennia. Since the beginning of time, I suppose, if you count the fact that his atoms were built in the belly of a star. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been awake. Maybe this was the first time? He couldn’t remember. All he knew was that he was a pebble and he was alive and he was laying on something hard and he couldn’t see anything or hear anything or really move at all, but he knew who he was. He was Pebble!
Wait he could move. A little bit. So he wiggled. If anyone had been watching and they had been watching very, very closely, they would have seen a small, grey pebble wiggle just a little bit in way that couldn’t be entirely explained.
He liked to wiggle. This was fun! So he kept doing it. And the more he wiggled the more he realized that he was changing. Something was happening on the bottom of him. Well it was the bottom of him now, because he was growing legs. Little tiny pebble legs were sprouting from one side of him. When it seemed like they had stopped growing, and after he had started to get bored of wiggling, he decided to try to use them, and so he stood up.
That might be too graceful of a term to use for what he did because when Pebble stood up for the first time it was more like a crazy lurch that ended with him upside down, with his legs sticking straight up into the sky. Now that his top was facing down and his bottom was facing up, it was much harder to stand up, so he wiggled some more. It had been a few minutes and he was starting to miss it - wiggling really is pretty fun if you stop and think about it.
After wiggling for a while, his legs were underneath him once more and he decided to try standing up again. This attempt was much more successful and so he stood upon his little legs and he swayed back and forth while he learned how to balance. It was at this point that he realized he had a mouth.
“Oh”, he said. “Wow.” It wasn’t the most amazing thing anyone has said, but I’m pretty sure it is the most amazing thing a pebble has ever said and Pebble was quite proud of himself.
“Oh! Wow!” He said again. He felt he was getting the hang of this. He could stand and he could say two words. That was some serious progress. Then he discovered that he could walk. From walk he discovered he could run, and at this point Pebble realized the world was an amazing and wondrous place.
He ran forward at a breakneck speed (for a pebble) screaming at the top of his lungs (pebble lungs), “Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow! Oh! Wow!”
If someone had been walking on the trail on this lovely summer day, and they had been at the right place at exactly the right time, they would have seen a tiny little pebble running as fast as it possibly could, yelling as loud as it possibly could in a squeaky little pebble voice. They would have heard it coming from the direction of the stream, over some grassy knobs, across the trail (where he kicked up just a little bit of dust) and across to the other side into the trees.
I should pause here and explain something. Pebble had legs and a mouth, as you probably remember, but he was missing some other very important equipment. He didn’t have any eyes for instance so he couldn’t see where he was going. He also didn’t have any arms, so he couldn’t feel in front of him. As far as Pebble knew, the world was a huge, black, open space that was made for him to run around in. And occasionally wiggle.
So imagine his surprise when he ran into a tree. Pebble quickly went from full speed to no speed at all when he hit the tree, and then he bounced off the tree and he was going negative speed for a little while and then he was on the ground, sitting on what would have been his butt if pebbles had butts. They don’t by the way. Just legs and mouths, and those only sometimes.
“Oh. Wow.” Pebble said. If you were to say that fast, you might notice it also sounds like “Oh. Ow.” But that’s not what he said because it’s actually very hard to hurt a rock. Physically that is. It is easy to hurt their feelings. You will find they are really pretty sensitive if you take the time to get to know one.
Pebble had just learned something new. His world had obstacles.
“Oh! Wow!” He said excitedly. His world had obstacles! What else was there in this world for him to discover? The possibilities seemed endless. But unfortunately for Pebble the half life of fairy dust is quite short and at this point the effects began to wear off. First his mouth and then his legs and then his awareness, and like a gentle dream that you can’t quite remember, he left our world behind and rejoined all the other rocks and pebbles in their world, which is quite separate from ours, and impossible for us to visit.
If you happened to have walked on the lovely trail anytime during the rest of that summer, you may have noticed a small pebble, far away from the stream where it belonged, laying in the dirt at the base of a tree, all by itself. The pebble was greyish-whitish with silver speckles that were quite pretty if you took the time to look at them and truly appreciate this pebble for what it was.
That’s what caught the young boy’s eye as he walked up the trail with his father, his little hand clasped tightly in his father’s much larger hand, looking around at the world with his wide eyes because there was so very much for him to see. He saw a little glint of silver as the sun reflected off the pebble just so, angling the light directly into his eyes, but missing his father’s eyes completely. You may wonder why little boys (and girls) see so many things that their fathers don’t? Well that’s just the way the world works, that’s all.
The little boy saw the pebble and he knew right away that he wanted it to be his. He wanted to take it home and stick it on his special shelf with all of his other special things, because he could tell right away that this was a special thing and that’s where it belonged. He stopped walking, pulled free from his father’s hand, walked over to the pebble, and squatted down next to it. He picked up Pebble and he looked at it carefully, felt how smooth and round and perfect it was, and then he put it in his pocket.
And this was a wondrous thing because Pebble was not what he seemed. He was a part of the basement of the world, formed in the fiery furnaces of a young Earth, pummeled by meteorites, covered in lava, not yet touched by water, or life or even an atmosphere. Formed in a sheet of continuous bedrock that had laid bare for eons before being covered with air and then dirt and then lay there for eons more before being forced upward by a cataclysmic collision of continents that had raised the mountains up nearly two miles straight into the air and then he had hung in the air for eons more, before he had broken off of the side of a cliff and fallen a thousand feet to land with a thunderous roar and a cloud of dirt and water that had scared the animals so completely that the forest had been empty of sound and life for nearly a full day. And there he lay while the water and the wind broke him down until he was finally small enough to wash into the stream and down the slope and … well you know the rest of the story. My point is that this little pebble, small enough to pick up and put into your pocket and place onto your shelf was a mighty, wondrous, fearsome object, that has been stamped by time and formed just-so by the most powerful forces on Earth.
Pebble was special. Just like every other rock you see while you are hiking in the mountains. So next time you are walking on a lovely trail by a lively stream, surrounded by huge and majestic mountains, take a moment to admire the little pebbles under your feet and think about where they have come from and the amazing journey that has brought them to where they are today.