The idea of “ripples” assists us in thinking about 2 questions important to us all:
1. What are the effects of our actions?
In his book, Filters Against Folly, Garrett Hardin argues that we typically stop prematurely when trying to think through the effects of our decisions and behavior.
In other words, every action sends forth an array of ripple effects. He summarizes this enduring impact from any action as “you can never do merely one thing.” Taking him seriously would greatly slow our thinking.
2. When is our life over and done?
In his book, Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Sense of Your Transience, Irvin Yalom explains a strategy that has assisted some of his clients who are anxiety-ridden by the sense that once they die, the world and they will have parted irretrievably. In other words, their identity will be henceforth be an enormous void.
Yalom urges them to see their lives as creating ripples or enduring circles of influence that will affect others for generations. Those ripples would not be affecting human lives that postdate your physical death had it not been for your life and what it meant to others.