About a year after my son, Jacob, uttered those fateful words “can you make me something mummy?” watching me sculpt yet another clay unicorn for his younger sister, and followed up with “err … a pet pebble? Yes a pet pebble please!” we started seeing beautifully painted rocks around our home town of Cheltenham.
Before long we were part of the painted rock phenomenon which you cannot fail to have heard about unless, well … unless you’ve been hiding under a rock.
‘Kindness rocks’, as they are commonly known, are painted then hidden for someone else to find. The idea is that a little treasure left by a stranger can really brighten someone’s day! Like many other families, our weekends and school runs were subsequently filled with rock hunts and hides.
The concept originated across the pond in 2015 with Megan Murphy’s ‘The Kindness Rocks Project’. Megan came up with the idea after collecting stones and sea-smoothed glass from a nearby beach. To her, the stones were signs and messages from her deceased parents. “Finding them made me happy and I wanted to provide others with a similar experience”. The idea quickly caught on and soon hoards of us were out hunting, hiding and doing their bit to uplift others with sentiments and images sketched onto pebbles.
ONE MESSAGE AT JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT CAN CHANGE SOMEONE’S ENTIRE DAY, OUTLOOK, LIFE
So what is it about these squished granite ovals that have touched us and inspired the International pastime? The act of decorating them, whatever your artistic skill is quite a mindful experience. You are connecting with an object, choosing how to decorate it, where to hide it, wondering who will find it. Its also a really great way of connecting with your family and local community – many, like ourselves, do litter picking en route. Its just good, old fashioned fun.
But as Megan recognised so early on, it goes far deeper than that. They connect us. They make us feel we matter. Someone has acknowledged our existence or a significant moment, and has reached out to us in our isolation. Because like it or not, an alarmingly increasing number of us do feel alone. The message may simply be etched on in marker or a painted masterclass in calligraphy – don’t get me wrong you’ll encounter plenty of similar positivity quotes on social media, coasters and cards – but the fact you discover your pebble at random, that you can hold it, really feel it, even pick it up and take it home with you if you want, makes this an almost physical rather than abstract encounter. When you paint one, you wonder who will find it, what are they like, where will they hide it? And that’s why having a local facebook group for people to upload photos of their ‘finds’ is really cool.
I think that is what really speaks to us. It’s akin to the reason you all love our little MadebymeCLAY smiley pebble pets. The humbling feedback I receive from those of you who have bought or been given pebble pets confirms how important those little acts of kindness are, from builder-welders out on a job who just need a smile in their pocket, to those who have lost loved ones or want to send a little hug to someone; a bride to be good luck token, besties gifts, the list is endless but the point is simple. So much love, so much kindness … and all in the smallest of objects. That is the power of the pebble.