The Story of "Cairns"
I took this photo in Maui in 2006. My mama and I were staying at a timeshare (I highly recommend never buying a timeshare) and had done a bunch of touristy things. We were having fun but I wanted to have a more organic experience. While at the famous Banyan Tree we were standing next to a young guy who said, "Can you feel the mana (spiritual energy in Hawaiian)?" It felt great to have a very real conversation with him and he soon became our friend and guide around the island. 

One of our first trips was to the west side of the island - a place that you're not allowed to drive rental cars because of the condition of the roads. The scenery was beautiful. We savored the experience of incredible ocean vistas, red rocks, farms, churches, and treacherous roads. At one stop I took this photo, which, at the time, and maybe even today, was the most artistic photo I had ever taken. 

Cairns are piles of rocks. They often mark trails, but are also art pieces. I think they're beautiful - even the simple ones I see when walking in the woods. I see them as simple natural art and a mindful marker that someone has been here. I feel a signature of that person is gently left and feel a sense of honor when I see them. 

We can make places more beautiful than we found them. I have a friend that makes smiley faces out of rocks, leaves, and sticks wherever she goes. There's one on the pavement in the front of my apartment that she made a few months ago. Every once in a while the stick mouth gets kicked away from the rock eyes and I bring it back. I love walking by that smiley face. I love driving down a road where people have purposely planted wildflowers. I love when I see a heart drawn in the dirt. I love when someone anonymously leaves flowers on my windshield, or puts out the trash bin for me on trash day.

I love doing those kinds of things, too: anonymous, simple, yet exponential in joy. I think of the word "appreciation." One definition of "appreciate" is to "increase in value." Simple acts of beauty and random acts of kindness are an expression of appreciation and appreciate (increase in value) joy and reverence. I'm grateful for whoever took the time to make rock art in this western Maui field.

~Tracy Rae Clark, November, 2015