When you throw a stone into a pool of water, whether it’s a pond, a lake, or an ocean, the stone has an effect. The ripple from the force of the throw and the stone’s interaction causes movement in the water it’s now submersed in. This ripple is inevitable, regardless of the size of the body of water, and regardless of its state of calmness.
If the stone enters the water with a positive vibration, its ripple can be one of love. Or if the stone is feeling angry, its ripple can be one of hate. The ripple, whether it’s one of love or hate, has a brief and fleeting existence. But if the stone could be thrown into the water over and over, its ripple would be a nearly constant entity of its surrounding water. Its love or hate would be a constant.
When it comes to living, breathing, human creatures, the story is no different, except that instead of a stone entering the water, it would be us. We are all stones with equally valid ripple effects. We are all stones in action, sometimes flying solo through the air, but often coming into contact with the water – other people’s lives – and once again being the cause for that ripple.
We all have ripples and we all affect other people’s lives, whether we choose to or not. A human can’t possibly live on modern-day earth without having a ripple. Our ripples can be as positive or negative as we wish for them to be, just so long as we realize their existence. The ripple is inevitable.
It’s easy to overlook the presence of the ripple, though, especially when youth is on your side. For the majority of my life, I had come to the conclusion that my effect on other people’s life was less important than my effect on my own life. I was selfish and I knew it. I thought, at my age, it was okay to be selfish. And at times – though I now have shame in admitting it – I thought it was good to be selfish. I believed that being selfish was perhaps the only way to get ahead in life, be successful, and be happy.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong. With the help of a good friend and a mentor, I was shown that my ripple matters. For the first time in my life, I began to understand the importance of having a positive ripple, and began to truly put forth action and conscious effort in order to touch the lives of others in a positive way.
Little practices began showing me and teaching me, while at the same time proving my old me wrong. Getting into the practice of just slightly going out of my way, to pay someone a kind compliment, hold a door open, or even just smile in someone’s direction became something of a habit. The smiles and happiness that came back at me told me that my ripple was working. I was making a difference, even if just in the slightest ways.
My Ripple and My Transformation
I found myself in a convenience store in Florida one evening just before the sun was setting. I had stopped to pick up a bottle of water, and my frequent secret indulgence of a chocolate bar, and was in a hurry to make it to my destination before the sun went down. I found myself in line behind an elderly man in a wheel chair. I noticed patterns in the interaction, which told me it would be a while until it was my turn to pay. Struggling with his wallet, it was clear that he was also struggling to pay for his bottle of wine that rested on the counter, neatly tucked away in a plastic bag. The cashier was getting annoyed, the people behind me were getting impatient, and I was getting angry. I was tapping my foot impatiently and silently scolding this man for making me late, feeling the frustration rise as the minutes ticked on.
His second JC Penny credit card was finally removed from his wallet. It tumbled to the floor near my foot. I bent automatically and handed it directly to the cashier in an attempt to speed up the process. It was no surprise when the cashier announced again that this one was declined, too.
What happened next was just as automatic as my previous selfish favor, but came from a completely different source. It was as if another force, a completely separate one from what I can refer to as authentically me, came through me, and before I knew it words that weren’t mine came out of my mouth: “How much is it?”
I was just as shocked as the cashier was at what appeared to be my own question. The cashier told me it was $5 dollars and .32 cents. I paid for the man’s bottle of wine that afternoon, and left the convenience store with a stuttered “thank you” from the elderly man, and a “you’re awesome” from the cashier.
It wasn’t until later that night, when I looked back on the strange event, that I realized something truly astounding. I had done something that was so unlike me it felt like it wasn’t me at all. But looking back at it, I realized that it was completely and utterly me indeed. This event is one I will never forget, because it was the introduction of the new me. I was in the process of transformation.
My transformation isn’t nearly complete. But now that I realize that I can make a difference in someone else’s life, I keep my eyes all around me at all times, keeping watch of my ripple.
Your ripple, after all, is a reflection of you. And your ripple effects other ripples, and when you combine all of those ripples being positively influenced by yours, you see that your effect on the world is much greater than you could have ever imagined.
Ripple on, and ripple with love.