Dents and Ripples

“Make a dent in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

I was thinking about this particular quote while I drove to the local hardware store for potting soil and basil plants.  I don’t believe Jobs had this chore in mind when he asked Apple employees to make a dent in the universe.  He surely meant think and do big things.  Create transformative products.  Be bold…  and the like.  And on the face of it I agree with the request.  And yet I’m probably not going to make a dent in the universe.  I’m not really inclined to either.  Dents are a bit…  abrupt for me.  As a water-based creature I’m more inclined to make ripples.

Ripples offer their own measure of immortality.  Ripples carry across the surface, impacting the entire body of water.  They intersect with other ripples that in turn create other ripples.  Raising children makes a ripple.  Recycling creates a ripple.  Being a either friendly, generous, loving and good person or a horrible, hate-filled, evil person creates a ripple.  Ripples carry across time, impacting generation after generation.  Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi create ripples today, and were impacted by the ripples of Thoreau and others before them.

Being a ripple person doesn’t let you off the hook, but it does seem more realistic for most people.  Make the biggest positive ripple you can.  Wealthy people like Carnegie made extraordinary ripples across time with donations made possible by the accumulation of wealth.  But until you write that transformative book, or build a billion dollar company, maybe start with holding the door open for someone, smiling and saying hello?  A little act can make a huge impact in someone’s life.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

We’re all dancing with fate.  Our time could be up at any moment really.  Why not make a few positive ripples today so that if it all ends tomorrow you’re remembered with fondness, you’ve helped steer someone towards a better future, or you leave the planet a little better in some small way?  And if you somehow make it big doing what you do, maybe make a big splash too.  Those create some serious ripples.

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