Well it was three years in the making and each stone was lovingly placed, 30 tons in all. And as I built this wall when ever I got the chance I learn’t a lot, the stones do indeed speak.

I started this wall as a fit 59 year old, strong enough to lift up the 80 kg base stones and stagger round. What I quickly found out was my muscles might have been up to the task but my  tendons weren’t and for the next year I learnt how precious the gift of being able to lift a cup of coffee is and wondered if I would ever carve again.

But I digress, it was my cancer that the wall and I discussed and the irony on being well enough to build a stone wall yet have stage 4 cancer was not lost on either the wall or myself. I often asked it unanswerable questions on the fairness of life or whether you could survive  through effort alone, but most of all I just asked if each rock should go “there”.

You see I was told that the real expert wall builders ( mine is a dry stone wall so no cement) placed every stone they picked up into the wall, they never put it back on the pile they just knew which one next to place.

The reason behind this is of course that if you are being paid to build a wall there is no money in putting stones back on the pile, but to me it was about the ZEN of it all. Being able to pick and place every stone in the right place seemed so perfect, so …graceful, a test of a true craftsman.

And so I rushed headlong into mastering the building technique, efficiently was the key and I knew that efficiency was the brother of speed. And indeed I did get faster and I started building the wall never putting back a stone, my progress was quite staggering and the wall seemed to jump into life.

That was until I returned to it one weekend and for a moment I just stood and looked. It may have been the light that day, or maybe my mood or even just a reflective moment, what ever it was as I looked my heart sank I couldn’t put my finger on it….it wasn’t right.

And so that day I tore it down, my partner Lorraine who couldn’t see the imperfections couldn’t understand why I was undoing all that work and I am not sure that I did really.

But in my haste to be the ZEN stone mason I had lost my way, I had stopped talking to the stones and had started telling them where they would go, in my efficiency I had forgotten to listen.  In my haste I had stopped our conversations and just concentrated on the task at hand, building a wall in the shortest time possible just to be finished and available for the next task.

And at that moment I realised I had missed our conversations with me posing the impossible questions and the wall patiently listening to me and quietly waiting till I had figured out the answers. I had misplaced the love of something for the speed of its completion and very nearly missed the whole point of doing it.

And so I went back to my slow inefficient way of wall building, picking stones up and asking them where they wanted to go, sometimes putting them back on the pile and other times walking round the wall with them offering them one spot or another and listening to their response.

And as we built the wall together the stones and I, an understanding grew. And as my treatment progressed and I became less able to place as many stones so the discussions became longer between each one but the wall never complained it never chided me about my progress it just listened to my questions and offered its silence so that I might hear the answer I sought.

And little by little we got there until it was finished, and I realised I was sad it was over as we had endured some hard times and had some uplifting ones.

But it had taught me something that was irreplaceable, it had taught me that we are living in an unsustainable way, man needs time to think things through, we need silence so we may hear our thoughts and we need to get our hands dirty in order to be connected to this planet we live on.

But what I learn’t most of all is that the power of talking to yourself in a patient and respectful way can bring about some powerful changes, so much so that I changed my career and have become a Hypnotherapist, I have become the wall.

Footnote: my next wall is teaching me how to develop an entirely new concept for businesses to enable them to imagine they are their clients to see how their products and services really look. Watch out for the IMAGINAIRIUM…..

About Nick

I don't say things to be liked I say them because I mean them. Reputation doesn't come from being liked it comes from standing for something.


  1. Deb Macpherson June 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    So totally absorbed in reading this I forgot I was at work for a while…. I was at the farm looking at the beautiful beautiful wall.
    Thank you Nick for reminding me to take time to think things through, listen to myself and enjoy the journey.
    Lotsa love from Debxxx

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Hi Deb, my pleasure and you are indeed part of the process and as you know the process is never a smooth one but that makes the story eh? See you very soon. Nick

  2. Roisin June 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi Nick

    Great blog post and sorry to hear that you were diagnosed with cancer and well done for finding a purpose and I wish you all the best

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      Hi Roisn, lovely to hear from you and and how are things going in your world. The cancer has been a catalyst for a new life that is for sure and as you know it is neither good or bad it is just how we choose to live that counts.
      Let me know if you are free for a coffee sometime I would love to catch up. Nick

      • Nick June 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

        So Sorry I missed the last i in your name.

  3. James O'Hare June 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Great reflection Nick

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi James thanks for the comment and I am glad you got something from it, I hope life is treating you well. Cheers Nick

  4. Keith June 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Hi Nick
    I always enjoy your blogs and this one was particularly good.
    You are so right. We live in a world of unnatural speed and artificially created haste.
    Stopping! Completely stopping. Is something most people never do, until they are forced to.
    Your stone wall ZEN story carries a strong message about how we live.
    Even though you will receive many compliments and “likes”, I wonder how many people will actually “stop” and build a stone wall (metaphorically speaking).
    Unfortunately I suspect your extremely important life lessons, will for the most part, fall between the hairline cracks of mobile calls, text messages, emails and career aspirations.
    Delighted to see you are still alive. Keep on placing stones!
    Love you

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Hi Keith, as always right on the button. I think it is easy to be reflective when forced but often death happens before the lesson is learn’t.
      In my new business as a hypnotist I am increasingly working with burnt out business owners and executives all spiralling out of control on the wheel. Just getting them to take a breath is an effort still we all reach that point at some time or another.
      How is life treating you and when will you be in this fair land so as we might catch up and have a laugh.
      Thinking of you as always yer mate Nick… glad you liked the post.

  5. Victoria Armstrong June 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    A great blog – and never a more poignant scene painted.Thanks Nick

    • Nick June 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Hi Victoria,

      Thanks so much for your support and I am glad you liked the blog…….looking forward to catching up soon.cheers Nick

  6. Tina Falloon June 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    This is gold, get a gig writing for Elephant Journal, their sudience of thousands will lap this up.

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 7:44 am #

      Hi Tina, glad you liked the blog and thanks so much for the pointer to Elephant Journal I have emailed them and sent a link,I will let you know what happens. Are you up for a coffee sometime.

  7. Andrew Hagen June 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Nicely done Nick !

    • Nick June 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      Hi Andrew, nice to see you briefly flash past in the car, must be time for a coffee, how is this week looking we could go to the Prefab?Glad you liked the blog.

  8. David Hamilton June 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Really enjoyed your blog, have just finished reading a book you you may be interested in reading, called Inner Guidance our Divine birthright. David

    • Nick June 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Hi David, I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the book I will look it up. How are things going with you at the moment.

  9. John Ansell June 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Inspiring Nick. I particularly relate to your comment about the power of talking to yourself in a respectful way, and your About comment that it’s important not to say things just to be liked. ‘Niceism’ is an attribute of New Zealanders that is not always helpful. Keep up your good work.

    • Nick June 8, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

      Hi John, how are you my friend and you are so right about Niceism it is what has taken us to the heights of mediocrity. Do you get to Wellington much if so hw about a coffee. Nick

  10. Braden Rowe June 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Beautiful writing and a lesson to us all. I think I need to build a wall of my own. Thanks Nick.

    • Nick June 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

      Hi Braden, glad you liked the post and the beautiful things about stone walls is they don’t have to be big as when you have finished you can just tear them down and start again.
      Don’t delay……..

  11. Lyndon Hawk June 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm #


    Great story. Meaningful, positive and encouraging as always.

    • Nick June 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Lyndon,

      Lovely to catch up the other day and I have not forgotten the blurb, glad you liked the blog.
      Speak soon

  12. Pipi pipipipipipipipi June 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    what a beautilful piece of prose Nick..a lovely story

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      Hi Pip pipipipipi, so lovely to hear from you and I am glad you liked the post. Are you in Wellington? Nick

      • Pipi pipipipipipipipi June 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

        Yes!!!! just about to finish my second semester at Massey and living Welly south coast now…

  13. Simon Wright June 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    We’re practically strangers – we once shared a coffee – but we’re both humans and your fable resonated with me. Imagine if we all became more skilful at seeing ourselves from another person’s point of view. Good luck building the IMAGINAIRIUM

    • Nick June 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Simon, we indeed did share a coffee and lets do it again, how are you placed next week say at the Lido. email me

  14. Julian Moore June 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Really inspiring blog, Nick. Let’s catch up soon.

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      Hi Julian, wow so nice to hear from you and your kind comments. How are you placed over the next couple of weeks for a coffee?

  15. Brenda June 5, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    inspiring,great story,beautiful stones they talked well.

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Hi Brenda, so glad you liked it and indeed the stone have a wisdom of their own, I knew you would understand as it is in your blood.
      I will call you next week. all my love Nick

  16. Andrea June 6, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    Love this, love you <3

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Hi Andrea, Love you too, give us a call and lets catch up, hope life if good with you.

  17. Jay June 6, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    Good insights and reflection. Thanks for sharing.


    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Hi Jay, thanks for reading and I am glad you enjoyed it, how have you been. Nick

  18. Paula Hanekom June 6, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    Hi Nick
    Thank you for your story. You really took me on a journey. Funnily enough where I live, all the gardens have decorative stones. As a gardener, I hate them. – hard to get through to the lovely soil. Now I know what to do with them all!!!

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Hi Paula, so lovely to hear from you and glad you liked the journey, and I understand your frustration with stones in the garden.
      Please let me know if you would like to catch up for a coffee. Nick

  19. Jeff MItchell June 6, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    Great insight Nick. Enjoyed the story, and wall looks pretty magical in that photo.
    Nice to think that each stone has some separate thought imprinted on it.

    • Nick June 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      Hi Jeff, thanks for the comment and indeed all the stones are imprinted with thoughts, wouldn’t it be great to ask them their side of the story. How are the battles going and I hope you and the family are all happy and well. Nick

  20. Pete Mclaughlin June 6, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Hi Nick, I see your insights and unrivaled lyrical imagination have not in any way diminished as the years have passed and life’s events have taken their toll. Love the wall analogy, actually, could feel the effort and angst as it unfolds and concludes.
    Great to see the “man from Japan” still lives….

    Cheers, Pete M.

    • Nick June 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Pete, man it is lovely to hear from you and indeed the “Man from Japan” is still here, if not a little weary from life’s battles. Thanks for your understanding and as always positive support I really appreciate it. Let me know if you would like som of the music demo’s Scott and I have been doing. Nick

      • Pete Mclaughlin June 8, 2014 at 11:07 am #

        Yes indeed, have been a bit musically stagnant of late, could do with a pick me up. Scott’s in Seattle currently isn’t he?

  21. Dave Insull June 6, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Great post Nick – key to turn off and slow down and enjoy the simple tasks of our day 🙂

    • Nick June 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Hi Dave, thanks so much for your kind words. Caught up with Tim when he was back in town and have a great guy to run Wellington for you. Drop me an email. Nick

  22. Jeremy June 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    We haven’t met for some time Nick … yet I enjoyed your story telling … in a deep and thoughtful way … the phrases sparkle with life, understanding and passion … which you continue to demonstrate so ably … INSPIRING … ciao Jeremy

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Hi Jeremy, wow so nice to hear from you I would love to catch up for a chat, please email me on to arrange.
      Thank you so much for you critique and I am humbled by your comments. Cheers Nick

  23. Neil June 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    Excellent!! Glad it’s not just me that talks to inanimate objects. Do you get funny looks during these conversations from passers by or do you just discuss the issues in your head? Looking forward to the next blog

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Hi Neil, interesting question, the answer is that people often stop for a chat. One person paid me the biggest comment by asking if I was repairing the wall. he thought it was very old. Speak soon.

  24. Nick June 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Very cool wall. It rocks.

    • Nick June 7, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      Hi Nick, thanks ( I love puns) looking forward to catching up for a coffee.

  25. David Hyams June 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Nick. Great to read of your struugles with life again. Your “voice” has gained a new understanding of life and its meaning. Love the story of the voice of stones. Would love to visit the wall somtime? Coffee?
    Dave (Doco)

    • Nick June 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

      Hi David, how are you placed this week for a coffee and where shall we meet.Been ages since we last chatted, glad you liked the post.
      Cheers Nick

  26. john June 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    I live next to the wall , I watched nick as you fought your battles, rocks you couldn’t move, time, health, You triumphed my friend, a monument to determination and an achievement to be admired.
    Congratulations again.j

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Hi John thanks so much for reading the story and indeed you are part of the whole adventure with your help and humour. I really appreciate have you as a friend and neighbour and for moving round the stones, I couldn’t have done it without you, See you in a few weeks. Nick

  27. Noel Reid June 8, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Wow Nick

    That’s truly inspirational!
    I haven’t known you for very long, but that’s another side I haven’t seen before.
    Well done, and all the very best!

    Regs Noel

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Hi Noel, so glad you liked it, and lets catch up for a coffee, drop me a time. Cheers Nick

  28. Jillian June 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Hi Nick,

    I loved your blog. So beautifully written too. The wall is a work of art.

    • Nick June 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      Hi Jillian, wow thank you so much, coming from you that comment really means a lot. It’s funny but it has taken me nearly a year to write this blog and I suffered from anxiety after writing my last post and wondered how I could be as good again. That fear of we all have a story in us and had I just used it up. The wall is indeed a work of art albeit a bloody big one, and the next one is moving forward with ease and grace.
      Are you ever up in sunny Wellington as I would love to catch up again. Nick

  29. Haydn June 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Thanks Nick,

    Another wonderfully insightful blog.

  30. Paul October 17, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Bravo. Not building for anything but the product is deeply instructive. I’m sure you observed the way rocks, unassuming though they are, like to bite fingers – at least when the fingers are trying to assemble them into a wall. It looks great but I know the labor was greater stil than the product

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