Be all you can be -- most of us think of the poignant military service poster when we hear that phrase. But let's get on a more intimate level and imagine the world if this was a personal motto for each of us. How different might everything be if, say everyone chose to make a point of doing the very best in each and every facet of our lives every day? Think what life could be with each of us truly offering up our absolute best as a friend, parent and child, as a sibling, husband, wife and most of all, as a human being?
How many of the world's issues could possibly be solved if we merely stopped being selfish with our time and stingy with our blessings -- If we were willing to give a little more, to take a little less, and pay more attention to how we effect those around us? With the simplest act of kindness, or even a mere word of encouragement, one might initiate a chain reaction setting in motion a potentially infinite ripple of goodness throughout the world.
I recall my grandfather taking me fishing on his pond when I was two. Sitting, pole in hand beside him on the arched redwood plank bridge, the bows of his giant weeping willow tickling my face, he showed me how when the turtle peeked his head above the surface of the pond it made ripples. I sat transfixed as ribbons of tiny waves began their journey across the still crystalline surface, startling a skeeter, hurrying along a water snake, pushing a lone leaf closer toward the grasses dancing in the shallows.
As the wavering bands reached the shore, water lapping at mossy rocks surprising a resting dragonfly, grandfather explained that every action has interminable consequences. He spoke those words most likely not realizing that 42 years later they would still resonate within me.
I can't help but wonder, now as an adult looking back over my life, how many ripples I had created. How many times had I said or done something, be it good or bad, that had created ripples that imparted subsequent change unforeseen by me? How might I have altered the course of someone's career choice, personal aspirations, opinions of others, self-worth, or even personal relationships? The sad thing about the ripple effect is that we will never fully realize the ramifications.
So I ask you this -- If today, right here and now we all resolved to think before we speak, before we respond and advise. If everyone of us took a moment to truly ponder the consequences of our actions and words prior to spouting them aloud, how might this world be different?
If we all would just realize what an integral part we play in those lives we touch, from the barista at the coffee shop, to the box boy/girl at the market, the stranger changing your oil, the child we raise, even the spouse we reside with, how less toxic this life might be?
Today I reflect on grandfather's insight -- hearing his wisdom echoing through the years. This day I vow to truly be completely cognizant of my actions, as well as my reactions. Starting now I resolve to take full responsibility for the ripples I might make from here out.
I resign myself to full awareness of how my words might affect others' lives, alter their thoughts and even their perspectives. I offer this thought in hopes that even one of you might join me, together we can make a better tomorrow, if only one ripple at a time.