Choosing Ripples Over Dominoes

People often speak of ripples and dominos when describing how our actions and choices effect those around us. I perceive ripples to be how goodness spreads, how one good turn touches another. I imagine the domino effect to be someone crashing and taking everything and everyone within his path with him. The domino effect could be described as a chain reaction, but I call it a path of destruction. I suppose to some degree it can be used to describe the turn of the stock market, gas prices, and our current economic status.

I’ve known people in my life who refuse to go down easily or alone. They pull and grasp at everyone within reach…not that they think it’s a lifeline to save them, but just so they make someone else look just as badly as they go down. Or maybe misery really does love company!

I feel the chain reaction of the domino effect is stronger and harsher, with attitude and more purposeful, than the gentle waves that reach out and caress the ones nearby. Ripples sway me to and fro like a lullaby while the idea of a domino effect has my head filled with idea of being crushed in a mosh pit.

I never owned a set of dominos as a child, but I was intrigued by them. I used to play them with my baby sitter, but of course we played nicely. However, my nephew (he was only six years younger) and I would set his dominoes up throughout the house. We lined them on ramps made of books. We’d make intricate designs…all with the goal of tapping the first one and watching it slam against the next, and like a tower they’d all come crashing down. We’d whoop and dance and laugh in triumph of the destruction. We’d plan more elaborate designs to try to make things like marbles fall into bowls…those never panned out.

We designed our patterns with demolition in mind. We manipulated objects so that we not only collapsed the dominoes, but took out anything they touched. The more, the better. The louder the booms, the more ecstatic we became. Each successful scheme led to an even more elaborate one. We continued until we failed. When we failed we became bored. What fun was it if our goals were not accomplished? I don’t recall anyone ever praising or admonishing our efforts. Our childish games went fairly unnoticed by a household far too busy crashing and toppling it’s own life obstacles.

I find the need at times to remind myself that I can be a ripple or a domino. I’m sure I’ve had my moments of being a domino as I have crushed a dream or two in my time, but I prefer to be a wave of comfort and encouragement. I have the power to choose my actions. I hope I don’t take anyone out along my way. As I travel through life I have the ability to be a force to be reckoned with or soft touch on the journey. What kind of an impact do we ultimately want to make on those in our lives? Do you remember those who were loud, demanding and commanding fear as having positively influenced your life? Do you recall those who touched your life in subtle ways as having more of an impact on your life as it is now?

43 thoughts on “Choosing Ripples Over Dominoes

  1. Oh I so want to be a ripple rather than a domino! (I have to tell you a secret, though, when I read this post in my email box I read nipple instead of ripple. What does that say about me? 🙂 )

    I’m afraid I crash. I find myself sinking (strike that) I’m sinking and I stike out to take hold of anyone nearby. I pull on them. They’re going down. I think I do this most by playing the blame game. I bump into people when I’m certain I don’t want to look inside.

    The ripples idea allows me to look with such gentility. I can, like water waving forever, kindly and with liquidity, simply notice and allow what isn’t welcome to float away.

    I like that better.

    • nipple? You’re too funny! I think we’ve all played the blame game…it’s our awareness of it that enables us to change it. Love your reflections on the ripples, lovely…thank you.

  2. Love your analogies of the domino and the wave!

    “I find the need at times to remind myself that I can be a ripple or a domino. I’m sure I’ve had my moments of being a domino as I have crushed a dream or two in my time, but I prefer to be a wave of comfort and encouragement. ”

    OMG, I too have at times been a domino. But, I’ve notice something about those times….being a domino seems to take much more effort; leaving me and those around me with a feeling of exhaustion.

    “Do you recall those who touched your life in subtle ways as having more of an impact on your life as it is now? ”

    Yes I have. And they were always the gentle wave.

    Fab post, Suzie! Thanks for the reminder.


  3. I think you are right, Suzi. Those whose touches were gentle made the most positive impact in my life. I, too, would rather be a soothing ripple than a tumbling domino in another person’s life. Blessing to you…

  4. There are those people that come into your life and at the moment you don’t realize what a difference they made in your life until after they are gone.

    • yes, I’ve sure had those…and always wished I’d known their importance at the time. But then again, if I had maybe the lesson or impact would not have been as appreciated.

  5. The first thing I saw when I opened the e-mail (I get your posts e-mailed to me) was that picture. I just stared at it for awhile.

    Often, your first few sentences can be posts on their own. I read the first sentence and start thinking, then I read the next and my thoughts change . . . and on and on. You pack a lot into one post! 🙂

    I can see what you are saying. I can see how one might compare ripples to good and dominos to bad. But I don’t think that way. I don’t limit either to bad or good. Because sometimes even a gentle ripple can cause destruction. It depends on how fragile the thing is that the water is touching.

    Dominos can be used to create lovely pictures once they have all toppled. And the care and precision, the concentration, the planning, the effort and all the time that goes into setting something like that up is magnificent. It COULD be something one sets up to be a great thing and when the time is right the little push sets things in motion—-not to end in loud noise or destruction, but to end in something miraculous. Also sometimes, dominos are set up to create a chain reaction that gets other things going that might not have taken place had that domino before it not be placed with the utmost care and planning.

    I LOVE the tick, tick, tick, tick of the dominos as they fall.

    So . . . yes, I agree with you in that it could be looked at that way, but I don’t look at it that way.

    And actually I just realized something . . . I might tend to think of ripples as “destructive”. If the water is as smooth as glass sometimes the movement can travel the furthest and be a very “bad” thing.

    I don’t normally think about the impact I want to make. I try to stay out of trouble yet at the same time there is some “true to myself”-edness that I need to live by. Just the other day someone told me she often asks herself, “WWTD?” Because she said that since we met she has been stopping to smell the roses (to put it briefly) whereas before she did not. So she thinks What Would Terre Do? I guess that is what I would like to INFECT people with — the ability to see that life is good. There is always something to focus on that one can smile about.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas on ripples and dominos. 😉

    • Loved your FB comment about your comment being as long as my post…and a very good post at that! You make some very good point, a convincing argument…so I’m going to look at it from your perspective a little while and see if I still think the way I do. The domino designs are incredible. I am thinking about them from my childhood stance which was not fancy or productive! I tend to think of waves as being possibly destructive but ripples as gentle little reminders of the goodness….that’s just me.

      • Sometimes the dominos COULD be loud and bring destruction but “destruction” might not always be a bad thing. I am thinking of “V for Vendetta”. Ever see that movie? Sometimes things might need to be destroyed in order for better things to be built.

  6. I think you’ve been knocked over by too many dominoes, which smoothed your edges in the process, and birthed in you the desire to be the gentle ripple that makes a difference in the lives of others.

  7. Just moved to new condo complex. Aventura (just north of Miami)new incorporated city on Biscayne Bay with outlets to Atlantic. This place so populated has its own congressional district. The place looks like rows and rows of huge sun bleached
    dominoes waiting to be toppled by the next hurricane

    • What a visual you’ve painted! They have a couple of little communities of factory “row houses” in the town where I grew up, so I know exactly what you’re talking about…except these were built in the 20’s.

  8. I enjoyed reading your domino/ripple analogy. The domino makes me think of drama and noise, so of course, I’d prefer to be a ripple (soothing and gentle.)

    I can’t say for sure which I am most of the time (domino or ripple.) Only those around me would know 🙂

  9. I love how you captured the ripple in the water in your picture. I haven’t thought of things in terms of ripples and dominoes. But I appreciate your metaphor. Sometimes I think we are unaware of how are actions can translate into a domino effect.

    • I think I often do things without thinking of it’s effects on others until later. I try to do what’s right, and usually that doesn’t affect others in negative ways.

  10. What a great analogy. I spent 7 years teaching high school and I remember many times having to be the domino that knocked a too-smart-to-be-so-foolish kid into gear… sometimes it worked, sometimes the kid failed anyway. It’s a hard balance to keep, being a strong enough force to make much needed change happen before it’s too late, but gentle enough to not destroy in the process. I’d much rather have been the little ripples that soothe change into happening, but sometimes there isn’t time for that. The senior that skips class 3 of 5 days a week for half the year thinking he can skate by with doing no work just because he’s a senior… Blah! You either ripple gently the whole year, begging him to make up what he’s missed and come to class or domino away, notifying his mom, his boss, and admin. every time he doesn’t show up.

    • Sounds like you learned to master the delicate art of balance. I suppose there are times we need to be the domino, but unless it’s called for I prefer to be much unnoticed like a ripple.

  11. i dont know what dominoes is, or how it is played but i meet people you describe in your posts.

    all we can do is not do the negative things consciously.

    • Dominoes are a children’s tile game. It is played by matching the number of dots…however, many people line them up so that when you knock one over it in turn topples the one in front and so on.

  12. Very interesting post. I’m much more of a ripple, and sometimes not even that. I have to force myself to make change. Dominoes are a lot more fun, though, and I sometimes look with awe on those people/experiences who operate in that way.

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