Stone Cairns

It's a noun. It's my name. It's a metaphor.

A large stone cairn marks the path across a bare, rocky landscape as a hiker in a bright yellow jacket passes by.
This is a stone cairn. (Photo by Filip Toroński on Unsplash)

Long before there was an interstate and a combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell, there were stone cairns. Rocks were carefully placed and stacked along pathways and trails. They marked direction and distance. Often, stored within were supplies that a traveler might need - dried foods and herbs, perhaps a blanket or tools. The cairns were maintained by those who traveled and sometimes locals. People would leave what they no longer needed to carry. If stones toppled or collapsed, the next traveler would reshape and repair the cairns for those who came after. Traveling was often perilous and people looked after one another, friend or stranger.

Stone is a white person with a mostly shaved head and a unicorn plume of brown hair. They are wearing a wine colored vest and hoodie, standing in profile next to a pond.
This is a Stone Cairns.

And then there's me.

My name is Stone Cairns. I work with world changers.

That can feel huge, but it most often isn't. It's putting one foot in front of the other. It's stacking one stone on top of the next.

dissident bodhisattva n. A bodhisattva or aspiring bodhisattva who believes that existing political and cultural institutions must be overthrown or revolutionized and replaced in order to make it more possible for sentient beings to achieve nirvana.

(Definition by Rob Brezsny)

I began this path as a teenager with an over developed sense of empathy and a deep inborn love of people. In high school, I organized my friends against apartheid in South Africa and for human rights globally. By college I was organizing more than my friends. One thing led to another and I committed to learn and do the work in front of me. I became a jack of all trades - I could teach, I could fundraise, I could organize and plan. Why? Because that's what was needed.

Did I wreck my health or was my body on that trajectory all along? Hard to say but by my mid-30s, my body collapsed into a world of pain. It took more than a decade to learn how to navigate my new landscape. The path became a steep switchback - miles of walking to reach a place only a few feet from where I had begun. But there was so much learning. Also new treatments (yay science!) and oddly, ironically, in the midst of the early covid lockdown, I began to see glimmers of health.

Over the years spent in bed, I had surrendered the idea of further purpose. I was at peace with the work I had done, in acceptance that perhaps my ability to contribute to our glorious future was curtailed. Yet the moment there was a glimmer of hope in my physical world, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I wanted to Work.

The Big Work. The rising to meet the challenges of the current world work. Sure, I had 30 years of experience in organizing, doing the tasks, being in the office and in the streets but I have something more.

You wanna know about getting knocked flat and getting back up again? I've done that so many times it's second nature.

You wanna learn to stay grounded and consistent with your highest principles at times when everything is painful, swirling chaos? Yeah, I been there.

I looked around my mental/emotional/spiritual attic and realized I was hoarding experience, tools, resources and perspective. So I have started building this cairn.

The logo of this Company - a winding path beginning with the letter S opens into a spiral.
This is a marker of Stone Cairns.

My hope is that this community becomes a place of well-tended stone cairns. My personal health is not fully restored, but I have more energy than I used to. I will contribute as much as I can and ask for all the support I need to keep going. I invite you to do the same. Over time, we will build stone cairns together and supply them with all the tools, experiences and voices we find valuable. We will tend the path for one another and for those who come after.

We will build a new world.