Art of stone skipping


StoneskippingThere is great satisfaction when a stone skips (or skims) on forever across the water. One, two, three... ten, eleven.... until all the skips come together, and the stones slides to a stop and sinks.

From where I stand on the beach, the water today is placid and perfect for one of my favorite childhood past times:

Stone Skipping!

Reconnecting with Youthful Joys
I haven't skipped a stone in a few years, this is a pity. I hope I never truly let go of childhood joys. In my youth the goal of skipping stones was the number of skips per stone, the more skips the better. I of course cannot remember my greatest number. Over 12 maybe, my childhood self would say close to 20 skips, and I believed at the time that strength and speed of the throw along with the proper weight and thickness of the stone were the key.

Now I am not sure if strength and speed are that important a part of the equation. The first few stones I skip this morning are based on the muscle memory of childhood. Throw hard and watch the stone fly. But I notice the tension in my arm and let it go. My body relaxes, and I shift my focus onto something different than the goal of the number of skips. If thrown well, the stone will not hit the water immediately, but soar through the air for a while, until landing gracefully for its first touch. The angle of this touch will dictate how the stone proceeds. Too sharp and the stone will sink too quickly.

Finding the Perfect Stone
As I continue my walk down the beach, I find what I can only call, stone skippers heaven, hundreds of potential moments of joy. I reach down and grab a stone from the pile, and feel an instant connection with it. It is almost like it has been waiting for this moment. It is mostly smooth with only a few pockmarks, and about as round as it will ever be, the perfect specimen. I bounce it in my hands, letting it settle between my fingers. This stone feels right.

The One Moment
I step down to the waters edge, the waves lapping the beach softly. There is no breeze. The smell of the salt air from the ocean is fresh.

My arm and body swing in one continuous motion, the stone is released from my fingers and finds flight one, two, three.... I stop counting and just watch its progress. Its bounce is steady and fluid, even when it begins its slide, it stays on the surface going and going. For me the perfect throw.

I have no idea how many skips it made, that doesn't matter any more. The totality of the experience is what counts. The discovery of the perfect stone, the angle of the throw, the beauty that surrounds me, the way the stone softly hits the water, the correct amount of tension in my arm, this is what I have thrown all those stones for this morning....

To find that single moment.

How to Skip a Stone

  1. Chose a smooth flat stone of medium weight. Not too light that it's at the wishes of the water. Not too heavy that it's hard to get momentum.
  2. Place the stone between the thumb and index finger. It should fit comfortably in the curve created between these two fingers. Ensure the angle of the stone is slightly raised at the front.
  3. Stay relaxed and throw the stone in a side arm pitch, letting your body curve down with the angle and swing of your arm.
  4. Step into the throw, and let it go allowing the stone to spin out of your fingers.
  5. One smooth fluid motion with a clear head.