Our life begins without fanfare in a secret, dark, and dream-like environment. We don’t know hunger. We haven’t the ability to see beyond the self-contained world in which we grow. We hear sounds, but can’t connect them to anything that has relevance to ourselves, because we have no experiences to bring meaning to what we hear. We are a tadpole, developing in a place where our every need is met without us giving it a thought. Hugging us and holding us close, nurturing us, cuddling us, giving us shelter. Until the day we are squeezed and propelled from that warm and comforting womb of darkness and thrust into the light. We suddenly find ourselves in a frightening place where sounds, sights, sensations, and smells assail us. With a slap, recently formed and unused lungs begin to function, causing us to gasp in a strange new substance called “air.” Naturally, we cry. We have created our first ripple. The world is filled with ripples. The consequences of actions. The outcomes of plans and counter-attacks. The following of dreams, leading to success, failure, or to an unintended destination. To happiness or despair. The touching of souls. Or utter rejection. Ripples surround us. We are swimming in them. We flail about in the waters of time creating ripples of great and insignificant importance.
In our heart of hearts, most of us long to create a gigantic ripple or two that will forever change the shape of the world for the better. We desire to contribute something amazing and wonderful. Something lasting. We want our ripple to evolve into a tsunami. To have no end. To impact the future for generations and generations to come. We want to be remembered as having done something substantial and enduring.
Thus, we spend our days in this strange world trying to escape the darkness from which we emerged. We spend our lives attempting to create significant ripples that will ensure our place in history. That will continue and extend far beyond our meager reach. Far beyond our lifespan.
But ripples overlap, clash, collide, creating chaos. They often have undesired consequences. And we are not immune. Ripples can slam us back hard. They can overwhelm us. Drown us. Take us places we don’t want to go. Show us things we don’t want to see. Sweep us back into the darkness. But this darkness is empty and cold. It is not a place where needs are met. Ripples overtake us and we know lack. And want.
There are also people who simply don’t care. Or who care only for themselves. Individuals who desire power for the sake of destroying everyone who is perceived to be in their way, so they can rise at the expense of those they sink. People who only want what they want and who have no regard for the legacy they might leave. As far as they are concerned, the world ends at the end of their driveway and ceases when they cease to exist. What is beyond their own boundaries and reach is of no importance. They want their ripples to destroy the ripples of every other person they encounter. They want to build a protective shell around themselves that will allow them to escape the impact of the ripples of others. Unless those ripples bring them what they desire.
Some people, those like my parents were, delude themselves into believing their actions, and the ripples that result, have no consequences and are of no consequence. They tell themselves they are good people at heart and therefore, what they do must be good…or at least acceptable. They make excuses. Justify their wrong, the abusing of their child, convincing themselves what they do doesn’t have any kind of impact. They put it out of their mind totally and convince themselves there is no long term harm. Or, for that matter, short term effect. Because they are “good,” their actions must also be good and right. After all, they’re just trying to get by in a chaotic world. A difficult world. That they are part of the chaos, part of the problem, part of the destruction, totally escapes them.
That they are creating ripples that will significantly change the life of another for the worse is a reality they choose to ignore.
But theirs is not my story. They only wrote my story with their ripples.
The ripples that assailed me when I was expelled from my mother’s womb were toxic, harsh, crushing. I felt hands that did not offer loving touches. Hands that were angry. Lustful. Hurtful. I experienced words and touches that were manipulating and demanding. Words that were demeaning. Words that created ripples that smashed and wounded. Words that rejected. Words that destroyed.
In spite of this, when I was ever so much younger than I am now, I too wanted to do wonderful things that would create ripples to continue far beyond my less than idyllic beginnings, enduring into the future. I dreamed of leaving something behind that would touch the hearts of others. Let them know they weren’t alone. Ripples that would show them beautiful things could be born from great pain and that a person could win, even though they started from far, far behind. I wanted my ripples to flourish. To inspire. To help. To show others the way.
But I never found the way myself. The ripples of others, those forces that can be hideously destructive, have prevented me from being able to succeed. I flailed furiously in my attempts to overcome, yet failed. I am disappointed with my failure. I am weak. I thought I could break free and swim the ocean. I thought the ripples would propel me forward. Not drown me. I have not been able to triumph or escape what was set in motion in my life when I was ejected from my mother’s womb. And so, I have no words of wisdom or encouragement to leave. No guidance to offer. No ripples.
I am but a drop of water in the universe. A grain of sand in the desert. A nanosecond in the web of time. I have long given up on leaving something behind that would light the path for another. My ripples are small, insignificant, and lack reach and continuity. My voice is not heard. My actions are useless and inadequate. And I have nothing of consequence to say; to offer.
All has come to nothing. And my nothingness has become all. It is all that is left of me. My ripple dies in my hand, even as I hold it out and offer it to the universe. The universe continues on, swallowing my meager ripple until it is as if I never was at all.