I love winding my way through the mountains. The absence of smog and traffic is refreshing. Every once in a while, I come across a sign that reads “WATCH FOR FALLING ROCKS,” and each time I do, I just have to chuckle because most people actually assume that it means that rocks could fall and create a hazard. I know the truth and the story behind it takes place five centuries ago in the unspoiled land now known as Northern California.
It’s late August, on an abnormally cold night, and a Shasta tribal woman is giving birth to her first child.
“It’s a boy,” the father says.
“What should we name him?” inquires the mother.
“We must wait for a sign,” replies the father.
The new Shasta mother and father wait for a sign to name their son. A day goes by, no sign. A week goes by, still no sign. After a month of waiting, the mother and father start getting excited.
“Our son must be very special. The gods are having trouble thinking of a name for him,” said the mother.
“It is true that most children receive their names by the end of the first week, but we shouldn’t get too excited just yet.”
After eleven more months, at the end of a very hot summer, they start getting angry. So the father climbs up the volcano that towers over the village to show his displeasure to the gods.
“Why are you teasing us? You give us a son but you don’t give him a name. How is he supposed to live without a name?”
At this moment a cluster of rocks breaks from the cliff above him and knocks him out cold.
While he’s out, a spirit comes to him.
“Your son has been chosen. He will lead your people to greatness, but not just his generation, for he is immortal. He will fight the evils that plague the earth. It is up to him to protect the earth, as well as all of Earth’s beings, from harm.”
Weakened from being unconscious for three days, the boy’s father goes back home with the news.
“My love, the sign has come. I went to the volcano to show my anger to the gods and a bunch of rocks fell onto me, knocking me unconscious. We shall name our son Falling Rocks.”
“That’s great dear, but what took the gods so long to name him?”
“I don’t know, but I think he is bound for greatness.”
Ten years pass and Falling Rocks complains about his name like he has every day since he started speaking.
“Why did you name me Falling Rocks? You named my little brother Soaring Eagle and my little sister Pondering Bear. My name does not sound special, it is boring.”
“Son, we do not know why you were to be named Falling Rocks, but we must trust the gods. You are bound for greatness and it does not matter what your name is. Lately, I have been remembering a dream I had about the time you were named. It has something to do with a spirit and that you are destined to be the protector of the earth and all its beings.”
“Wow! That’s quite a handful to think about Father.”
“Yes, and you are now eleven years old. It is time for you to begin your journey to find out who you really are and to become a man.”
“I am scared Father.”
“That is natural, son, but the gods will be with you and you will get past the fear as you become the man the gods have destined you to be. The world needs you, son.”
“Thank you Father. I will also have you and Mother with me in my dreams and in my heart. I will become the man everyone expects me to be and much more because of how great you and Mother are.”
“Thank you Son. It’s time for you to go on your way. We love you, the earth loves you, and the gods love you.”
So Falling Rocks starts his journey and heads towards the mountains looking for answers. Who is he to become and why does he have a less than special name?
“Gods, why do you spite me with such a lousy name? If I am to be great, why is my name less than great? I don’t understand.”
Falling Rocks goes to sleep and a spirit encounters him in his dreams.
“Son, your name in the physical world may be Falling Rocks, but it is not who you really are. You are Earth’s protector and you are immortal, but in order for you to help the earth, you must be mature.”
Every night, Falling Rocks asks the same questions of the gods and every night, he has the same dream. The world is flying by around him and everything is changing dramatically, yet he remains the same; even the village he was born in has been covered by a huge man-made lake named after his tribe, Lake Shasta.
It has been about five hundred years and Falling Rocks is still wandering through the mountains too obsessed with his name to fully mature.
“Why have I not become the great man that I was suppose to be? I have fallen off cliffs, been attacked by great cats, and have battled wonderful beasts. You say that I must mature, but what more do I have to do to prove my maturity?”
As Falling Rocks sleeps, he has a new dream. Instead of a spirit visiting him, it is his father.
“Son, everyone loves you and the world needs you more than ever. I know now why you were to be named Falling Rocks. It is a test of character. In order for you to be great, you must overcome an obstacle. Since you are immortal, you have no physical obstacle, so your obstacle is mental. You must overcome your vanity, pride, and your obsession about your name. Then, and only then, may you be mature. The world is waiting impatiently for you, my son.”
The world is in great need of her protector, but he is missing and needs someone’s help, so signs have been posted throughout the mountains asking people to watch for Falling Rocks. Now that you know the truth, make sure you do what the signs say and watch for Falling Rocks.