Everything you do creates ripples. Most of the time, those ripples are tiny. That piece of gum you spit out by the roadside, for instance. Maybe it got stuck in somebody’s shoe and she wasted ten minutes trying to get it out and for the rest of the life of those shoes her foot makes a teeny little smacking sound when she walks on a hard surface.
Likewise, when you took an extra moment to push that cart into place at the grocery store, and maybe grabbed an extra one and pushed it into place too. You saved an employee a half-minute’s work, prevented a few people having to walk out of their way by half a second. Ripples.
Small, small ripples.
So maybe you think it doesn’t matter so much. So what if someone arrives at work just a touch more cranky one morning because you cut her off in traffic. What does it matter if a single homeless guy smiles for half a moment because you handed him the fifty cents you had in your pocket?
Probably not much, frankly. The ripples are real, yes, but so small as to hardly be noticeable in the great pounding and fury of the world.
But have you ever been to an old folk’s home? Because this is where it gets real. This is where the ripples come back and lap against shore.
There’s always that one cranky lady everybody laughs at because she’s so pointlessly nasty. You can’t help but feel sorry for her, too, because nobody comes to see her. She’s lonely and her life is a wreck and here it ends in this asylum where the pudding has lumps no matter how much you abuse the girl who brings it to you. This is the world she lives in, the world she created for herself.
But if you’ve spent much time around old folks, you know it goes the other way too. There’s always that beautiful lady at whose feet you are honored to sit and listen. And when that lady takes her final journey out of this world, a hundred people come to share a thousand stories of how her gentle spirit touched them.
A pebble thrown into a lake makes only the smallest of changes. But a lifetime of pebbles can dam a river or flood a village.
Every moment of your life is a pebble you hold in your hand. You get to choose where and how to use that pebble. Whatever you do with it will create ripples–maybe tiny, maybe not. You can’t control what happens once that pebble is tossed, and you can’t control the ripples caused by others. But you can decide what kind of ripples you want to create. You can choose to let them create something beautiful, though it require your whole life to do it.
And in twenty years, what will you look out and see? In forty years, what sort of world will you have made?