The Boy and His Skipping Stone


The Boy and His Skipping Stone

“You shouldn’t skips stones,” the old stranger said as he approached the boy who walked along the beach searching for the flattest of stones, “imagine, that stone has been traveling for years, decades, maybe even centuries in effort to reach this shore.”

“I feel bad for the stone that arrives to its destination” replied the boy without hesitation as he continued his search along the rocky shores. The cloudy sky and misty air seemed to hang lower on this day. Low waves glided up onto land carrying with them pebbles and the occasional stone. The boy raced down to the retreating water as a well shaped stone stumbled back towards the ocean from whom it was trying to escape.

Playa Grande, Ushuaia, Argentina

Playa Grande, Ushuaia, Argentina

“You feel sorry for the stone?”

The old man grasped the hand of the boy and opened his hand to look at the child’s new found prize. “You should be proud of the stone; it has been on a long journey and has finally found its destination, maybe its home.”

“But what now?” asked the boy “without the journey the stone has no path to follow, no destination in mind, and worst of all it no longer has a dream to keep it striving forwards.”

The boy looked down at the weathered rock which reflected the grey sky and perhaps its own mood as the old man stared blankly off at the horizon thinking about his own life, wondering how he could allow himself to have a child explain to him the ways of the world.

“Look at this stone,” the boy demanded as he threw his hand out and dropped the pancake shaped rock into the old man’s hand, “the journey has shaped it. The waters and minerals of the sea have made it smooth and flat. Regardless of whether or not it had been striving to reach this beach, it was the journey that moulded it into what it is today.”

The old man looked down at the white spots that dotted both his wrinkled hands and the smooth stone that sat within his weathered fingers. As he  searched his mind for a reply he looked up to see the boy wandering off along the beach and out of his view. He looked back down at the beach floor which lay covered in stones and cradled his index finger tightly around the contour of the rock and skipped the rock as far as he could.

“One, two, three,” he said with a smile on his face as he counted the amount of times the rock skipped along the water’s surface.

“This time let’s see if you can shape the water” he said as he walked away with a proud smirk on his face.

© Brendan van Son 2010


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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31 Comments

    • Thanks Connie… poetic Brendan has been hiding for a little bit, I thought it was time for a resurgence!

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  1. I really enjoyed this! It feels a bit Asian to me, sort of zen, and I like that. Were you inspired to write it because of Argentina/South America? Or your travels in general?

    Anyway, I love looking at travel, life, etc. from a variety of perspectives–and this story happens to be a powerful one!

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    • No, I was actually inspired by a number of things on this one. I was down at the beach and a girl there said to me “after all that work, you just throw him back in.” Then I started to think about a business plan that I’ve been working on with a friend, and thought “when the world is done shaping me through my travels, and I end up at my destination, I really hope that someone throws me back so I can take what I’ve learned and shape the world!”

      I’m very happy with the way this turned out, and glad that you liked it.

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    • Thanks Andi! I’m very proud of this one myself!

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    • Thanks! I really hope people are touched and inspired by this. I wrote it, and I’ve still read it about 4 times trying to pump myself up to get some work done. Time to shape the world peeps!

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    • Thanks Trisha!

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  2. Aw this is lovely – powerful story! Love the old man identifying with the stone!

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    • I’m glad you liked it Ella!

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  3. Love it! I’m having this argument with a friend. The friend says that when you retire from work, you should “look for the place you want to die” and live there. My argument is….. If I find the place I want to die, I WILL die. I have to always keep looking. This story fits my philosophy.

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    • I’m glad that you could relate to the story, and I hope you use it as future inspiration for continuing to chase your dreams and trying to shape the world around you.

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  4. Wow this is an amazing story. Very poetic and very well written.

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    • Thanks Jamie… sometimes things just come together like that… and when it does it’s a lot of fun.

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  5. I have always been a fan of the journey. Nicely done….and a great story to look into 2011 with. Cheers!

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  6. I think this is why most of us are travelers, for the journey not the destination.

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  7. I really loved this story Brendan. What an amazing creation and I’m excited by all the shaping we are doing. Never stop the journey

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    • Thanks!! I’m writing a sequel to this to be posted in a little bit… here’s a preview:

      “all pebbles manipulate the water, causing ripples. But bolders divert rivers, create lakes, and cause waves”

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  8. Humans are so drawn to water – must be the x% in our bodies?
    Not sure whether its the pebble and boulders though shaping the water?
    I feel its us, the water, surging forth through the line of least resistance that shapes our surrounding landscape ~
    It always astounds me how something so fluid has the power to create canyons 🙂
    Our journey touches/changes all we pass/come into contact with whether we’re aware of it or not ~
    Love water/landscape analogies!

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  9. Lovely story, Brendan. Sometimes the journey may be hard, sometimes a bit risky, but it always shapes us into a better version (this is what I believe, anyway) of the person we have always been and always will be.

    An early Happy New Year to you, mate. Happy travelling in 2011! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much. I’m glad everyone is enjoying this story.

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  10. Really great metaphor going on here. Love the last line too. We can’t forget that while places shape us, we also shape them.

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  11. I can’t tell you how much this same lesson has been on my mind lately. It’s the journey and not the destination that makes our lives meaningful.

    I am reading a book about this right now which has the same message. The key in our lives is to accept the challenge or the journey. In it, there will be conflict, good times and bad, and our patience and perseverance will be tested. It goes against our nature as many of us long for comfort and security.

    In terms of travel, it’s a way to break out of that. I’ve really got a long journey ahead but there is a huge lesson here that many of can learn from. It’s just a matter of whether we are willing to be tossed by the waves, getting pounded, and persevering to be shaped.

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  12. I think that we should send away on journeys all the people we love. This is the only way they can become hUMAN BEINGS, find their own and live. Because I think this is life: learning while you have fun 🙂

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  13. Brilliant. You were made for this stuff.

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    • Thanks Darcy, this is one of the pieces I’m most proud of. When ever I need inspiration I read stuff like this, so I wrote it in hopes of inspiring others in the same way. Glad you liked it.

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