You Can’t Unthrow the Pebble

Sometimes without thinking, we toss a pebble in the river. We give little thought to the waves it will create far beyond what we can see.

Sometimes we make a clear decision to toss a pebble in the river. Maybe we’re bored and just want to see the beautiful ripples. Maybe we see a fish we assume is in trouble, and toss a rock near it to make the danger flee.

ripple-effect

I’m not a nature buff and don’t even fully understand the impact of the pebble thrown in a river. But I do know that one tiny pebble creates thousands of waves. And once you throw that pebble, you can’t stop the ripples nor their positive or negative effects.

But what I do know is something about life. My heart is heavy because daily, monthly, and yearly I have seen the ripple effects of a pebble someone threw thinking they were saving a “fish”. Too often, we don’t truly assess the situation, ask people closer to the situation their perspective or insight, and we toss our pebble not considering the waves that will be created.  Too often we toss a pebble of insult or lack of support and don’t realize or perhaps don’t even care that ten ripples out, we’ve created a disaster.

That pebble thrown, with ignorant but perhaps good intent, has killed someone’s self-esteem, destroyed a family, continued a negative cycle, or worse. And we’re oblivious to the consequences of your actions. Or our pride make us hold on to our stance that we weren’t trying to create waves so we don’t acknowledge them as an effect of the pebble we threw.

The good thing is that thrown pebbles can have positive ripples too. Even after throwing a pebble that has unintended negative consequences, we can can make a choice to 1) Examine the situation including all of those we affected and determine if we can and should toss a positive pebble or 2) Refrain from throwing pebbles if we don’t know how or aren’t willing to do the work to make sure our pebble should be tossed.

The waves created from that one tiny gesture can be life-altering so we must choose carefully and be wise and humble enough to apologize when we see or learn that the waves from the pebble we tossed causing someone else to drown.

Here’s a poem I found which explains the ripple effect too.

Drop a pebble in the water:
just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center,
flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water:
in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing,
and there’s ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing
to a great big wave have grown;
You’ve disturbed a mighty river
just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading
from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them,
once you’ve started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute you forget;
But there’s little waves a-flowing,
and there’s ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart
a mighty wave of tears you’ve stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy
ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort
on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume
of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling,
and there’s joy circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort
whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water
just by dropping one kind word.

~By James W. Foley

 

 

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About Summer Owens

I'm a person who has experienced high highs and low lows which have helped me relate to lots of people. I have overcome a lot of challenges and now live my life to help others do the same. As a life coach, author, and college professor of a life skills course that I was asked to create, I spend every day living life, observing life, and teaching life and how to live your best one.
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