Like Pebbles in the Pond

Have you ever thrown a pebble into a still pond and watched the ripples? It’s neat, isn’t it? Even a small pebble thrown in one end of a pond can cause ripples at the other end. Bigger pebbles, bigger ripples. If you wanted to create waves at the far end of a pond all you’d have to do is throw a pebble into the near end of the pond. Such power. Such beauty. So simple.

What happens when you throw a bunch of pebbles into a pond? All of them send out ripples simultaneously and the waves crash into each other. The ripples stop going where they intended to go and get diverted in a new direction.

People are pebbles too. Every action you take, every choice you make, sends ripples of effect through the pond of our reality. Small acts, small ripples. Big acts, bigger ripples. What you do impacts other people. What they do, impacts you.

What is your pebble doing right now? Is it sending ripples of love, compassion, and courage throughout our pond, or is it sending out ripples of envy, anger, and fear? How would you like your pebble to behave?

I remember one time I was talking to someone on my cell phone while driving. I was really upset about something and I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention to the road. Someone started honking behind me, but I didn’t really know if they were honking at me. When I got to the stoplight this woman pulled up beside me and I could see she was yelling at me. I rolled down my window to hear what she was saying. “You almost caused an accident back there. Get off your damn phone while you drive. You could kill someone!” She was really pissed off. But she was right and I was wrong. So I said, “I’m sorry. You’re right. I shouldn’t have been on my phone while I was so upset. I won’t do that again.” She wasn’t satisfied with my apology even though it was quite heartfelt and sincere. So she kept yelling at me. “People like you have no respect for the life of other people. My son could have been killed and it would have been all your fault.” She continued to rant on. It was a long light. Finally her anger got me angry as well and I yelled back to her. “If your son is so important to you then why isn’t he riding in the back of your car in a car seat?” (Her son was about 3 years old, sitting in the front passenger seat, and was not in a car seat. A very dangerous situation as you probably know if you have kids.) She got flustered and her face got even redder. Her yelling increased and I finally just waved her off and rolled up my window.

But I considered what happened very carefully because it’s really rare that I get that angry. First, because I was so upset I was sending out ripples of fear and worry. It nearly caused an accident! My ripple caused her to feel fear and anger and she let me have it! I tried to stop the violent ripples with a sincere apology but by then the initial ripples were too large and just washed over my small attempt to create peace in our pond. Finally, her anger ripples overwhelmed me and I responded in kind with some hostile ripples of my own. Once the light turned green she sped past me, nearly cut me off getting in front of me, and sped away in obvious anger. I know without a doubt that both of us were driving upset. I knew I needed to do something to change the ripples, at least in my end of the pond.

I reached my destination, the grocery store, and I saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, “World War II veteran. Homeless. I need help.” I felt bad, but kept driving, and went grocery shopping. When I came out I was much calmer and the homeless man came to mind again. I remember thinking that here I was upset about something so trivial compared to the hell that homeless man must be going through each day. I resolved to stop feeling sorry for myself. I drove up to the homeless man and gave him a twenty dollar bill. He was so shocked that he almost didn’t take it. I had to insist that it was my pleasure to give it to him. He thanked me, blessed me, and started crying. I started crying as well.

I spent the rest of the day sending ripples of love, compassion, and joy to the people around me. I’m not sure what the lady with the kid in the car did when she got home, but I hope she found some peace, as I did.

This is one small example. One story. One set of ripples. What happens to our pond when we all get upset, angry, and frustrated? The ripples from those waves can be violent, hurtful, and dangerous. Even if you wanted to stop them it would be tough if everyone else was throwing pebbles into the water with negative intentions. Your peaceful ripples would barely change the flow of the pond. But we must take back our pond! Do you want to live in a pond where the water is sloshing around violently and drowning people or do you want to live in a peaceful pond that’s beautiful and life-giving?

Get control of your pebble, people. The ripples you send into our pond will come back to you, three-fold, ten-fold, a hundred-fold! Consciously decide what kind of ripples you want to send into the ocean of our lives. And when you feel a ripple of anger hit you square in the face, try to ignore it and let it pass through you. Sending out your own ripple of anger just gets everyone splashed.

I’ve made a conscious decision to send out positive ripples of love, compassion, and kindness. Sometimes I get upset. Sometimes I get flustered. Sometimes I even yell. But I’m working on it, consciously. If you’re going to choose to send out negative energy ripples, then please keep your pebble far away from me. My part of the pond thanks you.

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