land of rocks

Francesca Plabasan



Anya Tiglao

Graphic Artist

The Land Of Rocks


Once, in a land far from all human civilization, twenty rocks settled themselves on the lush and high grass of the fields. The rocks were dull, unpolished, and rough. Imperfect. Laying idly by a blue flowing stream, they were motionless, unbothered by the sweltering heat of the sun. Whenever a powerful gust of wind blew, they were stationary, unmoving. No force of nature could crack nor move the rocks. Their dull and lifeless grays contrasted sharply with the bright greens of fertile land they stood on. But, they were content with survival there. They had everything they could ever need.

But then twenty rocks became forty, and forty became sixty, and the rocks soon became a hundred in number. Many more traveled the lands to settle in the lush fields, away from the violence of warring humans. As the community of rocks grew, so did their desire for a leader. Someone who could unite, lead, and guide them. The rocks saw what had happened with the humans: they had selfish, flawed, and greedy leaders.  Every single empire that rose in power and glory soon came crumbling to the ground, reduced to dust and rubble, a far cry from what they once had been: mighty and invincible. The rocks were determined to be different from those humans; if they didn’t learn from their mistakes, surely the rocks could.

So they sought the perfect leader: wise and competent, but compassionate. Everything a leader was supposed to embody. Everything a leader had to be. They were consumed by their ideals: a picture perfect leader with no faults or flaws. It sparkled so bright in their minds that it blinded them. They assessed and investigated each of the hundred rocks, but every single one of them had a flaw. One was too kind, another too strict, many crumbled under pressure, some too happy-go-lucky, a few too shy. By the end of the so-called evaluation, no one had passed the rocks’ standards for a leader. They were miserable. 

But one day, as they were wallowing in their own despair at the lack of a leader, a gem arrived at their settlement. A diamond. A fine, blue, dazzling thing. It was smaller than the rocks, but when the light of the sun struck the diamond, the glare was so stunning that the rocks believed that the diamond was their salvation. It was magnificent. It was beautiful. 

Under the diamond’s leadership, they thought they thrived. The diamond ordered them to lay beneath the sun all day, to bathe in its warmth so that its light might touch the rocks and make them sparkle too. When night fell, the diamond ordered them to polish themselves to prepare for another day of sun. The rocks simply obeyed the diamond without question. After all, it was everything they needed. It was a leader. 

The daily routine continued over and over and over again. Slowly, the rocks started to become skeptical of the diamond. Its only orders were to lay in the sun and polish, day and night. They did not sparkle. It was tedious and frustrating; frankly, some of the rocks began to question the diamond’s leadership. Melancholy descended and though the sun shone upon them daily, it was ultimately darkness that engulfed them. The council of elderly rocks were perplexed. The diamond was supposed to be their guiding light, their savior, their leader. Instead, they were even more lost than they already were, plunged in the deepest sea of ennui. The path they set out for themselves became a blur, an uncertainty. They were sure it was a smooth path they had to cross. Now, they are in the haunted forests of the deep, with many more raging seas to conquer, more tall, towering mountains to climb, and more battles that they had to win. 

It was on a faithful summer day that one of the council members witnessed something utterly fascinating. A small group of rocks had defected from their community. It had decided to spy on them, to see for itself if the rumors were true. Instead of a dead society, it saw a community that was flourishing, even more alive than the fertile land around them, under the leadership of another rock, no less. The sharp rocks made useful tools, flat rocks were built into equipment, rough rocks grinded, and smooth rocks adorned. The big rocks stood as walls while  the small rocks became pebbles. The council member saw firsthand how rocks prospered for the first time. 

Something clicked. A late realization, a breath of fresh air, an epiphany, a eureka moment. This community’s leader was a rock, not a diamond. They didn’t need a sparkly gem; they needed an unpolished rock. They needed a leader, but they didn’t need to be guided. They needed someone to fight the battles with them. They were not made to glitter under the sun; they were no gems. They were rocks. 

 The rock didn’t sparkle like the diamond, but they were someone who understood. So, the diamond found another community of diamonds and other precious gems, no hard feelings at all. In fact, it even became a friend to them. The rocks didn’t find someone perfect – they knew now that perfection was unattainable. They just needed someone who could help them become the best rocks they could. Their new leader didn’t glint when the sun’s rays hit it, nor was it polished or perfect. 

But, it sharpened the sharp rocks, built using the flat rocks, grinded using the rough rocks, decorated using the smooth rocks, protected using the big rocks, and made pebbles with the small rocks. Because of this, the settlement thrived. The rocks were still as dull in color as they were before—a sharp contrast to the vivid colors that surrounded them in the fields, but they weren’t lifeless at all. When their leader understood them, inspired them to be better, and said that they had a purpose in the world, the entire settlement sparkled brighter than any precious gem. They shone. 

A true leader is someone who understands what it’s like to struggle and suffer. It  understands the reality of those it leads. A true leader doesn’t shine above the rest; it finds the light in others and teaches them to shine, too. Don’t choose the gems. Choose the dull rocks. Choose someone who isn’t perfect. Choose someone real.