A Tiny, Miniscule Ripple


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One hundred twenty-eight years ago “Solitude” by Ella Wheeler was first published. The inspiration for the poem came as the then single Ms. Wheeler was traveling. She encountered a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her, crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities she had traveled to attend. That evening as she looked at her own radiant face in a mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude”.

What good fodder for thoughts of gratitude Mrs. Wilcox’s poetry above and below are for me this morning. Her words are nothing earth shattering, but then the most valuable wisdom rarely is. The commonality of many profound insights can easily be missed because long knowing the words can cause one to never fully accept or grasp their meaning.

Today I will be a little more understanding and forgiving of those who act differently than I think they should. Having no idea of pain the and grief someone may be bearing inside, unseen, I endeavor to show kindness more and appreciate it better when it is shown to me. That will, at best, send a tiny, miniscule ripple into the world. However, even in its smallness the little wave will make a positive difference. Every tiny motion for good always does and comes back multiplied to its sender.

It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox