Ep. 5 Rockcast Podosophy
RR: Ok, this would be Episode five of Rockcast Podosophy. This is Rock Rat. We are sitting, I am sitting here with the lovely, enchanted Megan Schindler, in the Rocket Bakery, on Cedar. It’s a good location.
RR: You want to introduce yourself better than that?
Megan: Yea, so, um, my name’s Megan. My background is in psychology and currently I work in counseling. But, Rock Rat, a couple weeks ago, you asked me what my experience was with childhood development. And, kind of, your experiences, and people talking about rock stories. And how that originated in their childhood. And, I’m not an expert in child psychology – by any stretch of the imagination- but, I have worked with kids. And I have studied, ya know, developmental theories and how we grow into adults. Kind of. And, um, it just- it made a lot of sense to me based on what I know of psychology, of why people are fascinated with rocks starting in childhood and why that kind of originates. And so, we just kind of,… that idea has been kind of festering in my mind since we had that very brief conversation.
RR: And that was a good time. And we were very- we were actually very close to this exact location, weren’t we?
RR: We drove by? Yea.
RR: Cool. So, um, the background in this is that, when I talk to people, a lot of times they..when I ask about the rocks…things…you know, “Oh, you got that rock! Hey, man, let’s connect over it. Do you like rocks? Tell me why you like rocks. Let’s share this bond -excuse me- over these pillars of the Rockosophy….mantle. And usually they’re just like, “I’ve loved rocks since I was a little kid.” And then they tell me, like, this really pivitol story about, ya know, like Kent in Episode 4. You know, they had a geologist who had a pile of rocks that, you know, kids would go through the neighborhood, and then they just keep doing it and they never give it up. I was in an informational interview with an individual who is an Outreach Environmental Educator through…the county? Pierce County, I think, and I had a notebook that Bristol -what’s up Bristol Underwood, I love you- gave me for Christmas last year, and it had agates on it. It had Lake Superior agates on it that she got from a rock shop. Because she loves me and she knows the way to my heart. And, um, I was taking notes, because…ya know…as one does, as one Rock Rat does, just…compulsively…writing things down…
Megan: It’s true.
RR: Yea, and, she- don’t look at me like that- and she was just like, “Oh, agates, that’s cool, yea. I used to collect them when I was a kid.” And I got all excited and I was all, “Do you still do that?!” And she was just like, “No…I…I mean that’s a lot of stuff…” Because you know the anti-materialism thing that’s really popular right now?
RR: And she was like, “Yea, I don’t need any more stuff. And also…ya know I was a kid when I did it.”
RR: And, ya know, I became very embarrassed and I was like, “Oh…yea, nevermind. I’m not into rocks either….har har...”
Megan: So, I’ll be honest. I mean, I feel like most kinds are – start collecting something or get…really involved in something. But when they get older they don’t necessarily know that there’s a culture built around that activity still. Or they don’t stay connected to that activity. And so, it’s like something that is connected to childhood but they’re supposed to grow out of. Or they get shamed for it as an adult.
Megan: Like, I had a baseball card collection, but it’s not cool to be an adult with a baseball card collection. You know what I mean? I feel like a lot of people feel the same way, if they’re not connected to the rockhounding community.
RR: Yea, I think it also has a lot to do with the support. Which is true for any hobby, but, like, my grandparents were both educators. My grandmother got her Masters in Education in the 50s, because that’s how the Kaufman Clan does, and I mean both of them were just super supportive of my rockhounding hobby. Like, I mean, even when they were, ya know, deteriorating due to just age, ya know, it was still the thing they remembered from my childhood. It was me picking through their decorative gravel and being like, “Can I keep that? Look at this one!” And my grandmother, like, pretending to be very interested, and being like, “Yes,” or, “No, we need that because it’s part of the gravel. It’s part of our landscaping, Tori.” But, um, and I have a post about my Stone Soup experience, but I should really sit down with my sister. And we could really talk about Stone Soup and how that is a pivotal part of our childhood. But, so like, my grandpar- so, like, circling back to …the point. Is that they were educators and that they knew how important it was to foster these scientific interests. So, like, my first mason tool, my first rock pick was a gift from my grandparents. With a copy of Geology Underfoot in Illinois and then my grandmother took my geode hunting in this creek, that she knew of from another educator friend of hers. So, like, you have to foster it.
Megan: And that’s not a culture that I grew up with. I mean, being someone who is first generation and coming from a world where-
RR: First generation in what?
Megan: First generation in college students.
Megan: Um, or you know, the first generation to have higher level degrees. And, but, as someone who works in development and counseling, um, you know, we know how important it is to foster that curiosity. And how it literally is what you brain needs, is that exploration of the world.
RR: When, so,…like…So one of the four pillars of rockosophy- the Four Pillars, just for those of you who don’t know are: Rocks, Philosophy, Nature Hobbies, and Human Connectivity. So when you say that are we still talking about childhood development? Or are we talking about like in general? Because I took that as, like, every human right now needs that kind of expression or attached to their environment.
Megan: I mean, I think that’s an accurate statement. But when I said it, I was talking about childhood development.
Megan: And like brain development is….your brain needs stimulation. And so much of that comes from your external environment and through your, like, infancy and toddlerhood. I mean, that’s why babies stick everything in their mouths, you know. It’s to learn about the world.
RR: So would it surprise you that my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jon have a photo somewhere of me, like, being like three and having a mouth full of rocks? Like, they took a photo of it.
RR: I mean, psychologically, does that make sense?
Megan: Yea, so, um, so…..I know where you’re going with this.
RR: Do you? Do you? Tell me where I am going with this, Megan Schindler.
Megan: I feel like you’re giving me a lead-in to developmental stage theories.
RR: I’m just….sharing.
RR: Well, rockologically sharing my rockiness. Rocks….rocks…
Megan: So, like in the field of psychology, we try to boil things down and explain them in Stage Theories, right?
Megan: So, um, Peojea(sp?)..this guy named Peojea -he’s French, obviously- has this stage theory of cognitive development. And there’s four stages, so, the sensory-motor stage is you learning about the world through your motor skills, through your body, right? Through your sense. And that stage is, like, through your birth through age two or three. I mean, you think about it, every experience to a child that young is new. And so they’re experiencing it for the first time. And, I mean, you have the most nerve endings and, like, neurons through your hands. And there’s a lot in your mouth, it’s a very sensitive area. So that’s why kids stick everything in their mouth. Is because it’s a lot of stimulation going to your brain and so your brain is building so many neurons so rapidly, and building so many connections that you’re just like a sponge. And you’re soaking up as much as you can.
RR: Sponge brain! Is that really a thing?
Megan: Yea, and so that’s why it doesn’t surprise me that kids stick everything in their mouths and they stick rocks in their mouths. And rocks, like when you think about it, you’ve got….You’ve got visual, you’ve got visual stimulation, cause they’re so different and-
RR: They’re pretty.
Megan: They’re pretty, and you’ve got textures and you’ve got sizes. I mean, what more tangible thing with so much variety than rocks? For, like, kids to have that sensory input? I mean, you told me that people taste rocks – and I think that’s weird- but, like, people do it.
RR: That’s, yea -Rocklickers- we’re gonna have an episode on that. Stay tuned.
Megan: But in, so like, of course kids are drawn to rocks. They’re so many ways that they can have that sensory input. And it’s something they can pick up and take. Like, they can take ownership of it and that’s something that they get to collect and it’s accessible.
RR: I did give my sister a little mini collection of samples for her, um, nature stimulation…stimulation boxes? Sensory…sensory boxes?
Megan: Yea, yea!
RR: Sensory boxes for the daycare that CC goes to. Yea, um, for that very reason.
Megan: I mean, when we work with people who experience neglect, often it’s because they don’t have access to those different types of stimulation. Those different types of physical stimulation.
RR: They do have a lot of interesting textures.
Megan: Yea. There’s, like I said, textures, there’s colored stuff. Maybe, depending on the environment you’re in, there’s smells involved, you know?
RR: Some rocks do have smells!
Megan: Yea, there ya go. There ya go.
RR: So, my theory about rocks and childhood, which I was asked and spurred this conversation, um -it just occurred to me that there’s background music playing, I hope this interview is going to be able to be picked up by the recording device- is that people have such a just… infinitely colorful array of reasons for liking rocks, that it struck me as something that is imprinted very early on. And I don’t know a lot about psychology, and I don’t know a lot about human development, because every time I tried to relate animal development and animal behavioral science to humans, I kept being told like, “Humans are different, Tori! Stop tryin’ to do it.” Um, but like, those really early experiences in your environment have a heavy influence on how you view the world. Which is, I mean, psychology 101.
RR: But, it also has a lot to do with culture. And, like, what you deem to be like quote-un-quote “polite” or “rude” or “comfortable” or “uncomfortable.” Like, my sister showed me a chart they have for the Extension at Peirce County that has like four quadrants about, like, emotional disclosure and, like, I don’t know. It had, like, a range of things, where, like, in different cultures, you know, being blunt is very appropriate-
RR: -or it’s very inappropriate. And that has a lot to do with childhood whatever. So when people-
Megan: It’s social learning.
RR: Right, so when people tell me that like, I mean, I have very specific reasons for liking rocks. Rocks are sexy, like that’s great, but when someone tells me something that is totally out of left field and I don’t understand it at all…..I also understand it! Because I almost expect it to be something that is so different from my understanding of rocks and appreciation, because I recognize that it’s like a human thing. If it was, like, a sports team, like if it was like the Zags- rated No.2, I just want that on the record, Woo! Destroying!-it would make less sense if they appreciated the Zags for like a completely disconnected reason…I don’t know.
Megan: Well, and so, when you’re that young and you’re learning about the world, and you’re learning how to be an individual. One, you’re going through emotional development, right? And so it makes sense that a lot of those early childhood experiences, just because of the fact that you’re having them in that period of emotional development, that kind of bond gets formed. And they get connected to each other. So that makes sense, why people have emotional connection to rocks if they have experience with rocks in that kind of early childhood, early adolescent time.
RR: Connect to rocks or connect to people over rocks?
Megan: Just connect to the experience of rocks. So like, the example I always use is music. Often, people have a really powerful connection to the music they listened to when they were like a preteen. Because you’re going through so much emotional development, it’s almost like it gets imprinted on your brain. Ya know?
RR: Yea, Panic! At the Disco.
Megan: Yea! For me, it’s Green Day.
RR: High five. Yup.
Megan: And, like, um, I briefly lost my train of thought…
Megan: Yea. I mean,…
RR: Emotional development.
Megan: So, ya know, when you’re talking to these individuals and they’re like, “Oh, yea, I started rockhounding..” or I’m sure they did it as a kid, they’ve- even if they don’t show it to you- they’ve experienced a little bit of an emotion with that. Because it’s connected to that experience and that memory. Um, it’s kind of funny. So, after we had that brief conversation, I started- I have a few people who love rocks in my life and where I work. And so I asked them, “When did that start for you?” And a lot of them also said, “childhood.”
Megan: But, um, ya know, another thing is also -kids go through this thing where they’re really egocentric. So, um, often times, they will project human-like qualities onto inanimate objects. It’s why pet rocks work.
RR: How is that -oh pet rocks? We’re gonna have a whole segment on pet rocks- but…
Megan: So, like, someone told me this story of how they felt bad for the rocks having to be outside in the rain and cold and snow. And so, like, if you are giving the world around you human emotions, like that’s also forming empathy, right? But because for her, it was an experience it was an experience with rocks-
RR: Who is this?
Megan: Who is this?
Megan: I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say.
RR: That’s fine. I can interview your coworkers too.
Megan: So, like, people -especially kids- view the world differently. And they -like I said- they go through this period where they assume that everything around them has the same experience as they do. It’s kind of why, often times like, kids will think that cars are living beings. Or, um, like, want to dress up animals,..type thing. And so, I mean, like I said I know someone who has an experience with rocks.
RR: I should get their information. If you feel comfortable disclosing that after our interview. Um, yea. What do you mean by ‘egocentric,’ I’m curious.
Megan: They, uh, they don’t understand that other people have a different perspective. Or they think that what they are experiencing is the same thing that other have.
RR: Oh, right.
Megan: So, um, it’s just…they’re trying to build perspective. And they’re having a hard time taking on other peoples’ perspective. And also understanding that there are parts of the world that are not like them. That rocks are not living beings. Which some people might debate, I don’t know.
RR: I certainly wouldn’t debate that. There are probably people who would.
Megan: Yea. Ya know…nature/animal type stuff.
RR: I would like too interview those people. Anthropomorphizing?
Megan: No, like uh, that nature spirit stuff, that there are spirits in nature.
RR: Oh, right.
Megan: Spirits of rocks, spirits of trees. That kind of thing.
RR: Got it.
Megan: But, I mean, when you said, like, you know a lot of my conversations with people, they bring up early childhood and connection to rocks in that way. And it totally makes sense to me based on how we learn about the world in that part of our lives.
RR: Yea, and the reasons that people have to like rocks tends to be…..when they are financially driven I find it very confused and I tend not to engage with those people. Just because we have less in common. Like, we appreciate rocks for different reasons. Like, I’m gonna talk to you about a sale.
RR: The stories that I get and the reasons- the rationality- when people really like see that we are having a conversation that they want to engage in is almost overwhelmingly emotional.
Megan: And I would guess that the people who are primarily financially driven got into it later in life.
RR: That is also a theory, yea.
Megan: Because when we’re kids, we don’t know the financial value of rocks, right?
Megan: You pick up a rock cause it’s cool looking.
Megan: Instead of, like, you’re not dealing rocks when you’re a kid, you know?
RR: It’s true.
Megan: And so it makes sense that for the people who get into it young, their primary motivation for engaging in that hobby is emotional. It’s memory. It’s keeping on to that piece of your childhood and kind of having that golden thread throughout your life.
RR: Golden thread?
Megan: A theme that kind of keeps carrying through, or a reason that carries through. No matter where you are in your life.
RR: Aww! You mean a motif in a book?
Megan: Yea, exactly like a motif, yea. We -it’s a counseling term.
RR: So many of those.
RR: Yea, ok, well we’re gonna take a brief break for a delightful sponsorship message. But when we come back, we will be circling back to a topic that has been tabled -if I am correctly using all of these counselor terms-
Megan: Oh geeze.
RR: - about rocks. So. Give us just a second.
RR: Ok, yea, so we are back from our little sponsorship episode. Thank you for sticking around. Um, fun fact. We are – I mean, I am in Spokane right now. Please check out the website, uh, Spokane, WA! Yea! 99204! There are several rock shops in town, because obviously, the geology of the region is just wildly popular. And one of those rock shops in Spokane Valley is called Irv’s. I’ll have an interview with the -one of the- owners pretty soon. She’s very excited. But also, Meg was there.
Megan: I’m actually the one who found the shop, so I’m totally gonna be the one to take credit for that.
RR: Right, that’s…yea, no, good job. Gonna defer to you about your experience with the rock shop that you found and took us to.
Megan: So, I don’t have a lot of experience with rock shops. This is all, like, real new to me, but there’s another rock shop in town, um, that’s more kind of commercially based. They have a huge variety of stuff, they don’t specialize in rocks or crystals or anything like that. And that’s kind of what I was anticipating. And, like, going to Irv’s, they really care a lot about the hobby and engaging young people in the hobby. And, like, the educational focus. And so they have, kind of, all the tools you need. It seemed like they were really engaged in the community, and they’re motivation is clearly the hobby and the rockhounding community and it’s not solely commercial. And that kind of struck me. And they just, they make it really family-friendly. And, um, it just, it felt like more accessible as a hobby than other things I’ve seen. You know? And it’s kind of like, “How was I not aware of this?” Before being kind of dragged into this world with you.
RR: So when you say, “accessible,”… I talk a lot about….I’ve actually gotten away from reporting on actually…rockhounding as like…by locale?
RR: By location…
RR: Excuse me…I keep talking with my mouth full….I’m very excitable. Um, because -for lots of reasons- but I find the culture behind rockhounding…that was the reason I started this blog. That was the reason I started these conversations, because the story-telling is so rich.
RR: The culture runs so deeply within those people, that I connect with. And there’s a community understanding. And, ya know, for some people it is about the money, but for most people it’s about the experience. And I’ve found that in the rock shop owner. Definitely,…I think that accessibility is an interesting word choice on your part because of the location. Because I write a lot about and I talk a lot about my travels to a location, like actually getting there. Like, I pretty sure I slightly damaged the axel on my Jeep going to Crystal Mountain that one time I almost got stuck. Um, ya know, you gotta have a rugged vehicle, you know, the…How to Camp With Strangers post that I ended up reading at Creative Colloquy, people found appreciative because it was humorous. But also it’s very abstract, you know. And that, to me, the abstraction of the hobby, like, I did have to go into the middle of f*&% nowhere, ya know, does not seem accessible to me. But you were so enthused about it when we were there, when I was talking to her. “I mean it’s just so accessible, so readily available!” What do you mean by that?
Megan: So, like, there’s rocks everywhere.
RR: Yea! I know! I know!
Megan: There’s rocks everywhere..and when I say accessible, what I mean is really thinking…financially almost? Because, so, in my field, people pay a lot of attention to accessibility of services, right? I work in crisis counseling. Um, part of that comes form understanding peoples’ lived experiences and the way that that identity -there’s an intersection with identity and experience. So, experience of people of color, of women, you know, ethnic, and spiritual minorities, you know? And there are hobbies that are dominated by one demographic. So, I like skiing, and I went sky diving recently. And those kind of high-adrenaline activities are not something that people of color engage in because their every day lives are so risky. And so like, me, as a highly-educated white person, I need to go seek thrills in my life because I live a life that is safe. And other people don’t. And so, when I think about the accessibility of rocks as a hobby, it’s because you can -it’s- rocks are everything. I think with relatively little financial commitment, you know, I’m paying out a lot for lift tickets and ski gear which not everyone can. And, um, at the end of the day you get to, like, take stuff home, which is super cool. And it’s something that you can do your whole life. Ya know, like we talked about with kids and their…ya know, you can do it regardless of where you’re at in life. And I do think that maybe a downfall is that it might be hard for people who are differently abled or who have any disabilities to get access to locations, but at the same time, like you told me, the community is really based on sharing. And so that in a way also helps with accessibility.
RR: Yea, yup, gifts are a huge part of that. Melissa, when we went out to that, uh, river location. And we had that gentleman come over and gave us some agate pieces to “seed us for good luck.” Yea, he even told us about a place where we could find our own. And this…having someone show you their rock collection, if they don’t offer to give you part of it or- by ‘part of it’ I mean like a stone from it- I mean, I have been offered that so many times, it would be strange to me almost.
RR: I mean, when showing someone my rock collection, I always offer something. And it’s not something I do consciously. I mean, I only notice when someone absolutely refuses to accept it or makes a big deal of it, makes a big show because, ya. Accessibility is important and if you’re never going to that location, you know, you want a little piece of it.
Megan: Well, and it seems like people are interested in helping make it more accessible. Like they’re trying to remove barriers for other people who want to get involved. I mean, when I went skydiving, part of that is my physical condition and whether or not I can do it. And there’s nothing that can mitigate, or remove barriers, if I wasn’t physically able to do that, you know? Or, um, skiing. They can do some adaptions with skiing, and they do, but as a general rule, you need to be able to physically do it. And I imagine there are parts of going out looking for rocks that are physically demanding, but there are also places you can go and things you can do that are less so. Right?
RR: Mmhmm, absolutely, yea There are, like, you can go sift for sunstones. And the biggest physical commitment for that would be the sitting or standing at the site at which you were actually sifting through to find sunstones.
Megan: Yea, yea. And like you’ve said, there’s non-profits out there that are working with rockhounding.
RR: Ya know, that I’m not entirely sure about. I think maybe I was talking about Syncopation Foundation, which is a dance -yea, that’s a swing dance foundation.
Megan: Oh, ok.
RR: But! A non-profit rock group would be very important I think, because it’s so stimulating for kids! And that brings us back to our topic for this episode. Which is, I think it’s really healthy for kids who are always looking for ways to engage in nature.
RR: Nature is pivotal in their development, it’s really healthy. Last Child in the Woods- I wrote a scathing essay commentary on that in college, and every year that goes by.. I even posted that essay on this blog – every year that goes by it becomes a little bit more relevant. Because although it was heavily biased and very preachy, you know, kids they crave that connection to the earth. And rocks are everything. A rock, like any human, belongs wherever it falls. Wherever it lands, that rock belongs there. And ….that sense of connectivity is very important for people. And the fact that you can always replace whatever kind of rock that is. Like we get emotionally attached to our rocks- just like anything.
RR: My favorite thing about collecting rocks, especially the really beautiful ones, is passing them on. It’s important and it’s-
Megan: There’s such a lesson, right?
RR: What do you mean?
Megan: To be able to give something up. Like, give it away, especially if it gives someone else joy.
RR: But it comes with a story. It comes with the experience.
RR: It comes with that emotional childhood attachment. When you give a rock to somebody and they light up with almost a childhood level of excitement. They’re like, “Really?!” It’s like-
Megan: It’s like trading your…I’m connecting it something that I can connect to.
RR: Yes, please!
Megan: But it’s like trading your, like, Pokemon cards, like it’s the same thing.
RR: Yea, same thing.
Megan: I mean, foundational to my work is ethicay, right? And I work with kids all the time, and I think empathy is absolutely a foundation -especially to the world of counseling, obviously. But, I mean, we talk about fostering empathy in young people and how that’s so important. And in terms of nature, if you don’t form a connection to nature, have some connection to nature, how can you form empathy for it? Ya know, how can you want to take care of it when you’re older and become and ethical, ethical consumer and ethical, you know, resident of the Earth?
Megan: And so, you know, like, if you don’t recognize the impact you have on Earth, why -you know, being taught and being learned and having experiences with nature- then, you know, you gonna drive a Hummer when you’re 40. And that’s me getting on and off my soap box.
RR: Yea, no I appreciate the aerobic exercises that you make…with your soap boxes. Yea, um, yea and I think that has a lot to do with…..well, no. No, that’s the wrong phraseology. I know a lot of biologists who are conservationists in my field, and also geologists who are conservationists. Like, Dan Zeekin(sp?) from work, he has a degree in geology. Aaron Tureck, from RTR, he has a degree in geology. And they say that in…almost an apologetic….-if either of you are listening, I love you and you’re amazing for talking to me about rocks for so long, specifically Aaron, you’re two girls, just…ugh- …and…
Megan: My experience with people who have degrees in geology is that they don’t work in conservation.
RR: When I was in college, I was told that the only way to make money with a geology degree was to work for an oil company.
Megan: That what I was told!
RR: Right. And that’s-that’s most people. But right now, I work in conservation now. And the two people that I know of, off the top of my head, that have geology degrees are of course conservation biologists.
RR: I, …Aaron Tureck is a geographer by trade but he still has a degree in geology and he still loves rocks. And a lot of people on the west side have a degree in geology too and they’re also very ecologically minded. And I think it does- I think it’s just one more way that connects you to your environment.
Megan: I mean, thinking as foundational as tectonic plates and different geologic realities, it is….they’re really close cousins. And they form the whole picture.
Megan: Geology, biology, all of it.
Megan: It’s one more piece of the puzzle about the environment.
RR: Yes, the breakdown of the rocks which creates the soil which creates the habitat for the animals and things.
Megan: It’s interesting for me, not being a resident from here – and maybe it’s interesting for you too- to kind of learn about the geology of the Spokane area. Coming from Minnesota where….it just, it didn’t feel like we had interesting geology. Maybe it’s because I was younger and didn’t pay attention, but we were a huge region where granite ….and there’s a lot of iron mining in Minnesota and it’s just… Like, you don’t experience -or you don’t appreciate diversity until you leave it. Does that make sense?
RR: Um, yea. I mean, you don’t see the land until you see it from the other side of the….grass lawn I suppose.
Megan: Yea, like, coming to the Spokane area, where we have a lot of columnar basalt. I’m just like fascinated by it. Everyone else is just like, “Oh yea…” Or, if people are fascinated by granite I’m just like, “Oh yea, I grew up with it.”
RR: It’s true…the mines.
Megan: I mean, talking to you about agates. Lake Superior agates are what I grew up with.
RR: Which is great, wow! Pickin’ through agates in the gravel bars and things?
Megan: Yea. Absolutely.
RR: Probly all the Great Lakes, actually.
RR: I think the Midwest is unique in a lot of ways. The first, uh, mineral mine – the first mineral rush in the United States- was actually in Gelena, IL. And that was for lead. Anyone in IL will tell you that when you own a property, quote-unqotue “own a property” you don’t own the mineral rights. So you own what’s above the ground but you do not