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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.

You Can't Unthrow the Pebble: 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 is thrown, with ignorant but perhaps good intent.

It 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 makes 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 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.

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



I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.