My three stones by OCD Andy

The Three StonesWritten by: Daniel (OCD Andy)

Almost a decade ago, I was working at a small, beautiful gift shop which sold home accessories, house plants, furnishings, and the like. It was the kind of place you could stop into on the way to a party, and find the perfect housewarming, or host/hostess gift in no time.

Among our most popular items during my time there were ceramic word stones: tiny, pearly-white, shiny, perfect. Each one was imprinted with a single word: Live. Joy. Laugh. Intention. There were dozens of different words, all meant to inspire, and uplift. I fell in love with their simplicity and purchased a stone to keep on my desk, choosing the thing I desired (and still desire) most; the thing that those of us with OCD work so hard to maintain day-to-day: Focus.

It was my hope that simply having this little stone to look at every so often would put that word in the forefront of my mind, and help me to stay on track with whatever I happened to be doing. That’s a lot of responsibility for one little stone, but it did the trick.

When I was feeling overwhelmed, I would hold the Focus stone, feel its smoothness, the groove of the letters, and just meditate on the word. I began carrying it in my pocket, and during times of stress I would stop, pull it out and hold it in my palm.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

One day at work, we received a surprise gift from the distributor along with our regular order of word stones (which we were constantly restocking, because they sold so fast). In this surprise gift were two misprints: “Creaie” (create) and “Gtve” (Give). My fellow employees and I shared a good laugh over these, and the stones stuck around in the stockroom for a few days.

A short time later, our boss decided to clear the stockroom of clutter, and the two imperfect word stones were thrown out. I happened to be working that day, and noticed them in the trash, staring up at me.

Creaie. Gtve.

I asked him why he threw them away, and he said, “We can’t sell them, they’re no good.” I nodded, and said, “OK,” but walked away shaking my head. I couldn’t have disagreed more. They ARE good, I was thinking, struggling to make sense of his decision. Aren’t they? Then I had an epiphany. Something clicked.

In that moment I realized something imperfect is, in its own way, also perfect. Imperfection IS a form of perfection, and by extension, being flawed does not mean one is any more or less valid than that which is, seemingly, without flaw.

Having spent my life struggling to keep everything as perfect as possible, my head was practically swimming with this new realization. Imperfection isn’t something to hide, or throw away, or fix. It’s something to treasure because it’s unique. It was a big lesson to learn from some little stones, and it did the trick.

Later in the day, when no one was around, I fished them out of the trash. (Don’t worry, it was mostly packing materials we couldn’t recycle, so it wasn’t that bad.) I rinsed them off in the stockroom sink, dried them on my shirt, and put them in my pocket with the Focus stone.

They clicked against each other in my pocket on my short walk home, click click click, and sat together on my desk for years afterward.

Focus. Creaie. Gtve.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of perfect, pearly-white word stones out there in the world. I should know, I sold a lot of them myself. Live. Joy. Laugh. Intention. But my word stones are special. Mine are perfectly imperfect, insignificant and, at the same time, invaluable; flawed treasures I keep in a place in my home where I am sure to see them, every single day.

I struggle with focus to this day. I probably always will. I’ve come to accept that as part of who I am. Some days will be worse than others; some days I’ll need more than a small stone to get me through. I accept that too. I accept imperfection in me, and in others.I am grateful every day for what my three stones taught me about how to ltve:
Focus. Creaie. Gtve.

In the comments below, please share things that are important to you, and tell your story about them. Something that might be insignificant to someone else, but invaluable to you.


Photo Image by Daniel.


lives in Portland, and is the administrator/voice of OCD Andy, a page which casts a satirical light on his life with OCD and social anxiety. His favorite word is ‘Nope’.

You may view all of Daniel’s MHT guest posts by clicking here.

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  • Neurotic Nelly

    Daniel, oh how I love this post. When you said that they threw the stones in the trash I was like noooo! I too have learned to not accept imperfection but to feel a kinship to it. Unique is beautiful and imperfection is certainly unique. Those stones are a treasure. Great article and as a fellow OCD sufferer I resonate with a lot of what you said. I used to love the little ballerinas that come in music boxes. I had a collection of them that I would buy at flea markets and junk shops. I liked how they were all different and were considered junk by most since the music box was no longer attached to them… I had about ten or twelve of them. Sadly they all burned in a fire when I was 16 but they brought me joy. Thank you for this article!

  • mom

    Daniel, I loved your post. I too would have picked them out of the trash. I love stones especially the ones that are not perfect. I have them all around my gardens and I picked them up when ever I see one that looks special to me. Nothing in this world is perfect although I think we all strive to be.

  • Bob Brotchie

    Wonderful example, Daniel. Being ‘awake’ and ‘aware’ to this extent brings so many gifts and as others have said here, I too could not have left these treasures in the bin!
    My treasure is outside of a single precious item, but to be unique and individuate myself from ‘normalcy’. (‘Normal’ sucks in my view!)
    Celebrate who we are rather than threat over what we think others may think of us.

    Warmest wishes to you all.

  • Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    You are right that their is beauty in imperfection because in reality nothing is “perfect” or if it is then it is only temporary. I like that you picked up the two rocks because it shows that even things that may not have turned out the way they were supposed to are still beautiful. I personally value my friendships and the time I spend with the people in my life. It means a lot to me!

  • Daniel

    Thank you all for the responses. My apologies I haven’t responded until now. I didn’t receive notifications of comments, probably because I didn’t enter my email properly or something. 🙂 I really appreciate your thoughts on this piece.

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