Essays, Productivity

Essay: The Rock Tumbler

~ Note:  I am constantly getting points across by using really random examples and analogies.  Today is the rock tumbler analogy and my views on how we take in and retain information.

Let’s say you were down beside a mountain river one day.

You scooped up a handful of river rocks, tumbled to a soft sheen in their bed of glacial river water.  You bring those river rocks home and put the into a rock tumbler, which after a few days will produce beautifully polished river rocks.

A few days later, you open up the rock tumbler.  Among that large handful of shiny, smooth grey and black pebbles, there sit two lovely green rocks – these, in fact are mountain jasper.  A semi-precious gemstone.  You pull these two lovely green rocks out and scatter the other river rocks in the garden.

You’ll always remember those two gorgeous green jade rocks. The details, the veins in their structure, the deep green hue, like a mossy forest floor.

The rock tumbler can be translated to real life.

Every day we are exposed to ideas, information, lessons, research.  In this day and age we have access to an unprecedented amount of information. Some days it is quite overwhelming.  Amidst all this input, we often begin to wonder “how on earth am I going to remember all of this?”

The most profound information retention and learning happens when we just trust that we will take in and absorb information, and most importantly, retain it.  Your brain is like the rock tumbler, bouncing all of that information around, polishing it, smoothing it.  Like the mottled grey rocks, you will discard the nuggets of information that do not apply to your life in that moment, or your interests.

However, for every handful of rocks (information) that you pick up and put into the tumbler, there will be a few jade nuggets or semi precious gemstones.

Those are the pieces of information that land with you in a personal way.  Those little nuggets cause a little shift in perspective.

If you listen closely enough, it’s like you can hear a little “click” in your personal universe, as you realize that this piece of information has just irrevocably changed  the way you look at something.


Keep learning, keep taking in information.  The bigger the handful of river rocks that you put into that tumbler (your mind,) the more likely you will after a few days, have a few precious stones.


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