Conversation with the Rock – “Levitated Mass”


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(The photo above is from “Levitated Mass” — Making a Corner in LA by by Kevin Takumi)

An elevated rock appeared at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) several months ago. Over $10 million was spent to transport this rock from where it was to its new residence, and that became a source of controversy. I went to the LACMA a couple times to figure out whether this rock was worth $10 million.

I thought it would be best for the rock itself to tell us its value, so I initiated a conversation with the rock, “Levitated Mass,” which is now on view at the museum.

Me: My name is Alice, May I ask you some questions?

Rock: I knew you would come to me. Seeing you take so many pictures of me from all different angles, I sensed you wanted to tear me apart and analyze me. Boy, you really looked scary.

Me: Sorry if I offended you. I just wanted to figure out whether you’re worth $10 million.

Rock: I heard a lot of conversation about that – lots of talk among museum visitors. But you were the
first one to come to me directly. I have to admit you have guts.

Me: I heard an interesting story that, in 1968, land artist Michael Heizer envisioned a project for which
he needed the “perfect” boulder. He spent years looking for that perfect boulder. Then, in 2006, his
friend found him the “perfect” rock. That was you, wasn’t it?

Rock: Yes, I made Heizer‘s dream come true after 38 years of conception. Indeed, if you dare to dream,
it will be realized.

Me: It must feel good to fulfill someone’s dream.

Rock: That was just the beginning. The people tasked with moving me from Riverside to LA faced a lot of challenges.

Me: Was it because of your size (nearly two stories tall at 21 feet in height) and weight (340 tons)?

Rock: Yes, it took them years to find the right company to move me, select a route, get more than a
hundred permits, control traffic, build trailers, and remove all obstacles… The whole process needed
unbelievable coordination from everyone. They overcame difficulties and made the impossible possible.

Me: This reminds me of a Chinese story about a foolish old man who moved a mountain. The point of the story is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Based on what you described, it sounds as though the “foolish” men in this case showed us that if we have the will, we can definitely accomplish something, too. By the way, any particular feelings during your trip to Los Angeles?

Rock: During my 11-day journey through four counties and 11 cities, traveling no faster than five to
eight miles per hour in the night, I was quite happy to see many residents of those cities come out in the
middle of the night to greet me. To see these people enjoy art without having to go to a museum gave
me a wonderful feeling. They could enjoy art under the sky where there weren’t any boundaries or
restrictions.

Me: This makes me think of street art. I like it because it is without limits or boundaries.

Rock: Actually, I would like to share with you a life lesson that I learned from this journey.

Me: Great. Please go ahead.

Rock: To be honest, I was sad that they took me out from the quarry where I enjoyed sleeping on the
land and watching the stars in the bosom of Mother Nature. I missed my freedom and the serene
quietness out there in Riverside.

Me: I am sorry to hear that. It never dawned on us that you, a rock, would also have feelings. Well, then, I’m sure that you weren’t happy to be installed above this 456-foot-long trench in the back section of
the museum. The trench gradually descends underneath you and rises back to ground level on the other
side, creating the illusion that you are floating. It is quite an incredible work of art, right?

Rock: Yes, it may be so in the eyes of visitors. Yet, for this so called “incredible artwork,” workers put a screw on my bottom so that I would be secured. For some time, I was quite upset that I was stuck here,
but gradually I learned to deal with it. Seeing folks walk under me, I sensed that I could bless everyone
who walked under me. All of a sudden, I realized that I could let go of my stress simply by blessing all the people who walked under me.

Me: Wow, what a wise observation. Do you know that you just taught me how to “let go”? A lot of times
we know that we will have a brighter and a happier future if we are willing to “let go“ of those who
wrong us, or “let go” of unfortunate events and circumstances. Bless them with our love, and then our
burden will go away.

Rock: Yes, just bless anyone or any event that you can’t let go of. Bless them. Just bless them and you
can be at ease and get on with your life.

Me: You’ve told me an inspiring story about daring to dream, and that if you do dream, your dream will come true. You also showed me the importance of believing – where there’s a will, there’s a way. And the most amazing insight I’ve gained from you is to bless, so that we can let go and move on with our lives. Priceless lessons.

I know now when I looked at you I won’t focus on your $10 million price tag, but on the value that you
bring us.

Thank you – I got it.

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