Some of the most important things in life are easy to overlook and one of those is a pebble.
When I think about it, pebbles played such an important role in my life from early on, growing up as I did in a tiny town, a mere pebble’s throw from the Montana and Canadian borders.
There were pebbles everywhere it seemed — in fields, along streams and on the gravel roads that went every-which-way.
Gravel roads were especially prominent in my youth, with the nearest paved highway being at least 4 miles away.
Then one day, as if they were an attacking army, a platoon of earth movers showed up and pushed dirt around, digging up more pebbles for us to toss from high atop the dirt piles they’d built.
And before you knew it, that asphalt that had coated the road's 4 miles away had snaked its way into town, slithering down Main Street and, as a result, we were able to ride our bikes from the Super Value store to what seemed like eternity and back on a smooth, pebble-free surface.
Past the water tower at the end of Main Street to the quarter-mile mark, over one hill and up Suicide Hill, the big one, which didn’t seem quite as big anymore, after the earth movers leveled it off.
Nowadays, they’d make you wear a helmet if you were to do that same ride. But back then, your father would have been embarrassed if you had.
Still, in the end, even with the new highway, it was those darn pebbles everywhere that dominated our youth. We’d throw them at everything from fence posts, road signs and birds on power lines to cupolas on barn tops and at ducks in ponds.
Throwing those pebbles into ponds taught us that ripples emanated from the center and made us think about the affect our lives could have upon the world. But not in the ways you might think.
“Our life ripples out, and it has influence. That’s why it’s important that we’re at our best and that we’re influencing others for the good," Victoria Osteen, the wife of evangelist Joel Osteen, once said.
That’s true, but it’s also deeper and sometimes a lot harder than that.
“As long as you don’t make waves, ripples, life seems easy. But that’s condemning yourself to impotence and death, before you are dead," said Jeanne Moreau, the French actress, singer, screenwriter and director.
And you’ve surely heard the story of David and Goliath, where a boy who was less than 5 feet tall slayed a mighty giant over 9 feet tall.
That boy, with slingshot in hand, didn’t have to do what he did, because he’d only gone there to deliver sandwiches to his older brothers. But instead he suddenly decided to add “killing a giant with a pebble” to his agenda.
Then again, it wasn’t really about slaying a giant was it, since there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness, if every act creates a ripple with an immeasurable end.