Wednesday, February 22, 2006


When I was at University in Edinburgh I found a rock. Not in the metaphorical sense of the word, but an actual, physical rock. Whenever I was filled with misery and despair I used to go and sit with my rock. It gave me strength.

The Waters of Leith are home to a fast flowing, steep banked river. In places it is a miniature gorge running through the heart of this timeless city. Only a short walk from my cobbled Georgian street I could immerse myself in a wilderness and escape from the tumultuous emotions of a young woman discovering what life was all about.

In this haven lived my rock. Come rain or shine, sunlight or moonlight, it never strayed. It was stoical in its presence, defying everything that the Scottish climate could find within itself to hurl at it.

I used to go and watch it to comfort my inner self. The white turbulent frothing water span and circled, sank and flew and growled over my rock. It was utterly reliable in its resilience. I sat on the banks, battling my own devils and elements, and I tried to become that rock. I drew strength from its familiar presence, its unfailing ability to withstand the pounding and pummelling it relentlessly received.

I left that place feeling calm and reassured that things could be worse, if my rock could do it so could I. It never moved, it lives with me to this day.

Over the last few months I have found myself another rock. This time it’s hasn’t grown from granite but from human flesh.

I have complained about some of my friends, how they couldn’t cope, were unable to understand. Many of them have been indescribable in the sensitivity of their support. My rock is one of them. It has dawned on me slowly and crept up on me from behind, but I have come to rely on him. He doesn’t judge, he listens and he tries his damdest to comprehend. His sensitivity is unfailing. He was the first and only of my friends to offer to accompany me on my first journey underground, In the end I did it alone, it was the way I wanted it, but he was wise enough to know that I might need support.

Now he has gone away. For a whole two weeks. I am disappointed in myself to find quite how reliant I have become. Part of me is glad to have the chance to fight this alone, but the rest of me is drifting down stream, anchor dragging, grasping for pebbles which can’t hold their ground.

Of course there are others all around, I have found support from fellow human beings that I had never imagined possible, and I will grow from this. I have just realised, despite all my efforts of independence and strength, that there will always be times in my life that I need that rock.