One Stone at a Time--an inspiring story
One of those days when I was in Pandami’, Sulu where my ancestors had once lived, a wonderful inspiration came to me through two of the most unusual ways: by a small stone and a little lad.
I was walking through the thick bushes that afternoon, in one of my great grandfather’s well treasured land. I was hoping to find peace in listening to birds chirping up high on the trees, or with the wind that is softly touching my face, and even by pondering at the great wonder and mystery those gigantic trees have to offer (all of these are wonderful blessings from Allah, Alhamdulillah).
Along the way, I spotted a little boy not far from where I was. He was wearing a red bandana in his head, covering his short, black curly hairs. His thin body was plastered by his white shirt that had grown old and had turned to another color which I cannot name. A small taguban (a sheath) made of short bamboo, with its side having sliced open for the utak (a small kind of blade used in farming) to hang on, was attached with a rope to his tattered shorts. A small utak can be seen loosely placed in its sheath. The kid was busy scraping at the ground, apparently looking for small stones for his pitikan, a home-made slingshot Tausug boys in our place always bring with them. He stood up, aimed his pitikan to nowhere in particular, and released the stretched rubber, sending stones upon stones flying in the air. He had already made a few shots when I went to him and asked if he had already captured a target. (It’s always a small bird or a bat, but either way would unlikely make me happy.)
He answered in a confident tone, being proud having someone like me getting interested in his little game. He said “I am not hitting anything, kakah. I am just trying to send these stones back to where they belonged, up there in the mountains.” Then he started looking around for more stones to reload his pitikan made from a branch of guava tree.
I was still trying to reflect on what this kid had just said. Trying to send these stones to the mountains? To where they really belonged? I am now weighing the possibility of his sanity being unbalanced and a little pang of nervousness ran through my spines. But I moved on, letting my curiosity get the best of it. I came closer to that lad, who is now aiming another shot to the mountains. And just like highly trained, sharpshooters I often see in movies, he released his trigger-hand with delicate certainty that he will surely hit his target; this time sending stones up flying in the air, to a place where they really belonged to.
“Your crazy, utuh!” I told him, frankly “There’s a million of these stones! You cannot possibly send them all back to the mountains! And besides, tomorrow or the next day to come, they will always fall back here again. You cannot change that, my brother.” I was trying to shake the word ‘sanity’ into this lad.
He didn’t reply to my statement. Instead, he smiled at me showing those missing front teeth he have (or not have). He searched for more stones. This time he picked up one stone, a little bigger than those he picked up earlier. He aimed, and shot it towards the mountains. (I was a little happy that he did not aim his slingshot towards me.) I saw the stone hitting a number of leaves of a big Baunu’ tree before it disappeared in the wilderness.
“There!” he suddenly spoke, “I had made ‘one’ change with that!” beaming at me, still with that annoying smile with the missing teeth. I was stunned by the simplicity of his answer. I realized that this little lad was being true to his own soul, and he’s even teaching me something. An inspiration plainly laid to me through nothing but small stones: a lesson on being determined to do something, even how impossible it may look like.
Each one of us has that inner conscience of wanting to be different; to make a change and do something that others cannot do; something we always deem beneficial or of service to ourselves and the world around us. But most of us would find ourselves overwhelmed by the mere reality of this notion. We often hear ourselves complaining that “there are just too many things that need changing! I cannot possibly do it all! It’s just impossible!” And we end up being losers, defeated, disappointed by our own self-afflicted failure to do something without even trying so.
What that little lad had taught me that afternoon, is a simple rule that we often overlook in our daily lives:
“Just do what you can do and don’t worry about the rest. At least you did something, somehow. At least, you tried…”
It doesn’t matter which stone you throw. It won’t matter how big or small the stone is, or how far or near you can throw them. Just pick up one stone and throw it! Send it up high, to the place where it always belonged to; one throw at a time; one, single stone at a time. With that, you had made “one” change amidst millions. And it did make a difference.
I heard someone calling from afar, his father (or brother) was already looking for him. He replied with a yell in Tausug telling his companion to wait for him. He gestured a final wave at me and managed to smile, before he started running towards the man calling him. A moment later and I was again alone in that serene place, surrounded by nothing but the green nature around me.
Next to my right foot, I noticed a stone as big as my fist covered by dried leaves. I picked it up. It was just big enough to fit in my hand… With one breath and a mighty throw, I sent it flying up in the air towards the mountains, where it always belonged to.
“Ha!” I told myself, now feeling accomplished on what I had just done, “I made a ‘bigger’ change with that!”
Then, a few meters uphill, I heard someone screaming in a hoarse voice, cursing in Tausug and yelling: “WHO THE H*LL THREW THAT STONE AT ME!!!”
Ooops! Gotta run for my life! THAT was not part of the ‘change’ I planned of doing! And I sped my way downhill, to my grandfather’s brick house, in that place where my ancestors had once lived… (Still hoping that I didn’t accidentally hit somebody that day. =)
*This story was derived from (and was greatly inspired by) the story of “MY STARFISH STORY” on some book I had forgotten who wrote it. It’s just a local and funny version in my life. Keep throwing stones people!*