The Ripple Effect©

Have you ever thrown a rock or pebble into the still waters of a pond or lake? Did you notice how the little waves ripple away from the center in circles and continue on and on? The same thing happens every day in our lives. Little things we do create ripple effects that can sometimes result in good things and sometimes make bad things happen to other people, even people we have never met.

Suppose one morning you happen to see a friend who is grumpy and somewhat unhappy, and you give her a big smile and say hello. Since smiles are contagious, she gives you a smile right back and suddenly feels better. If so, she may smile at someone else. The ripple effect can continue to others, all from that one smile you gave.

One early evening on a lonely country road, an old man was standing on a bridge, high above a deep river. He had just dropped a pebble over the railing to see how long it would take to hit the water. As he watched the ripples fanning out, along came a pickup truck. It slowly came to a stop, but the motor was kept running. The old man noticed the name painted on the door: Todd’s Greenhouse Nurseries. Walking up to the window, he saw a man behind the wheel with his head bowed low, breathing heavily.

“Is anything wrong?” he asked.

“Yes,” the man said quietly, “I think I am having a heart attack. I am trying to get to the hospital.”

“Let me help you,” said the old man. “You shouldn’t be driving. The hospital is a good ten miles from here.”

“I know,” mumbled the man. “I’m Jack Todd. I’m a widower. I was all alone at my nursery, after my employees had left for the day.”

“Don’t worry, Jack,” said the old man. “I’ll drive you there.”

He opened the door, took the wheel, and drove as fast as he could down the road. When they arrived at the emergency entrance to the hospital, the attendants rushed out with a wheelchair and quickly wheeled Jack Todd to the emergency room. The old man waited throughout the night. He knew what it was like to be all alone, without family or friends in times of need. He, too, was a widower. He had lived alone since his wife had died several months before.

The doctors were able to save Jack Todd’s life. They told the old man that Jack Todd would have died if he had arrived just a few minutes later.

A week passed. Jack Todd was getting well. Several of his employees came to visit, as did the old man. While everyone was gathered around his bedside, Jack Todd took the hand of the old man and said to his employees, “This dear and gentle man saved my life, though we were perfect strangers. And I want you to know, he created a ripple effect in all of our lives. By saving my life, he saved my business. By saving my business, he saved the jobs of thirty families. We all owe him so much.”

There was silence as all eyes turned toward the old man. He gave a gracious smile, but there were tears in his eyes. He gently leaned over the railing of the bed and whispered to Jack Todd, “I must tell you something, Jack. You saved my life. Just about the time you drove up in your truck, I was about to jump off that bridge. Now I know how important every life on earth is to every other. It is just as you said, Jack, the ripple effect.”

Words of kindness, deeds you do
Touch lives and ripple through.