15/31 days of madeleine – how’s your ripple?

“Our story is never written in isolation. We do not act in a one-man play. We can do nothing that does not affect other people, no matter how loudly we say, “It’s my own business.”

Lately I’ve been tired of some of my friends. Not all of them, mind you. Just a growing handful, and I can tell you exactly why.

Their feelings are destroying our friendship.

Well, their feelings and then my cynicism in response. But let’s not talk about me, let’s just focus on other people for a minute.

A couple months ago, my grandma died. I never publicly told anybody because even though she was family, we weren’t close and I didn’t want unnecessary pity. Death is an encounter with the Divine regardless of your religious beliefs, and with it comes a lot of weight. I was walking by the river at night, crying for no apparent reason and felt stuck.

Luckily, I had a weekend full of plans with my friends to look forward to. Friends I’d not told about my grandmother because I figured it would naturally come up in conversation.

Except that one by one, every last one of them (we are talking 3  days in a row and 6 plans) bailed on me. Some of the reasons were.. well.. reasonable. But for the most part, they were just excuses. It was “I don’t really feel like it.”

Deep within me something switched. I didn’t really feel like dragging around heavy thought bricks, but God kind of dumped those in the wagon I keep my emotional crap in. There was no “I don’t feel like dealing with this,” I just had to do it. So I did what I am the best at doing: I got really mad.

Had I told my friends that my grandma died and I just needed to be around people, I truly believe they would have rushed to be with me. I never thought I should have to do that.

Because my friends “didn’t feel like” hanging out, I carried a burden that should have been shared for a little longer than I should have had to.

We sometimes get so caught up in what we feel, what we want, what we think is best, that we forget to seriously consider how our decisions affect those around us.

Once when he was younger, Graham got really upset at us. I can’t remember why. But I remember sitting in his and Lauren’s room, and telling him about how his actions were like dropping a rock in a pond. His actions created a ripple, and he had the choice over what kind of ripple he started. When he was mean to Lauren, she was mean to me and I was mean to Emily who was mean to Graham, who was mean to Lauren… and suddenly that one solitary action created a sour, bitter wave in all of us.

Stacy told me once that shortly after we’d had that conversation, Graham was starting to get angry. Lauren looked at him and asked him “How’s your ripple?”

So in the realm of friendship:

How’s your ripple? 


  1. H.G.
    October 16, 2012 / 3:58 pm

    Yep, this is amazing. Thanks for sharing Steph. Today I talked to someone on the phone and that someone jumped to conclusions and before I knew it–they were mad at me. Even though what they thought I was saying wasn’t true–they were mad. I took it on myself to think how can I make this person not mad at me. Then all of a sudden I was mad because they made me think that.. but they didn’t. Anyway, I get this. How did I turn it around? I haven’t figured out how to perfect my reaction.

    • October 17, 2012 / 3:52 pm

      man. did it stick with you after that or were you able to shake it??

      • H.G.
        October 18, 2012 / 9:33 am

        typically, because unfortunately I do this a lot–I just push away those thoughts as negative. I realize that I’m trying to control the situation and just stand my ground. Usually something else comes up that I can focus on and I move on. It’s easy sometimes to love the mad part though and to relish and put on the coat of how I feel–that I’m right and a person has no right to be mad at me. I think Rob has quoted something like this before–enjoying being right. Anyway, this person apologized and bought me a special treat as a sorry. 🙂

        • October 18, 2012 / 1:17 pm

          i don’t know why, but that reminded me of this buechner quote: “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you. ” probably the notion of being right, because when i’m right and someone is wrong, especially if not initially agreed upon, i feel like that quote.

          an apology + a treat? all’s well that ends well, right? 🙂

          • H.G.
            October 18, 2012 / 2:45 pm

            and that, my friend is what I was thinking about–the quote that is! 🙂 I can’t say that’s always the way I’d like to end with a treat, but it’s not a bad thing either!

            <3 you my friend, thanks for engaging your reader!

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