How much does a pebble weigh? It's a weird question, I know. It's a stinkin' pebble. Who knows? Who cares?
Yet every day you and I are carrying them around with us everywhere. We also give pebbles to people we encounter in our lives. One tiny pebble here and another there. They're such innocuous little things:
- Can you drop this off on your way to the front office?
- Can I borrow a pen?
- What are you making for supper?
- Will you bring me home something to drink?
- Did you get that email I sent?
Tiny, yes. Yet each of these are still something. They're a pebble.
The real weight
Each time we require something of someone, we are putting a pebble in their hand. It's just a tiny pebble from our point of view. It barely registers a thought most of the time.
But, here's the thing. We have abso-freaking-lutely no idea how many pebbles someone else is currently holding in their hand.
I've learned there's always a story behind the story. No one is quite sure what is going on behind the scenes of other’s lives. We have to be thoughtful about what we're asking of them. I certainly don't want to put the one pebble in someone's hand that finally breaks their grasp.
I had a good discussion about this with my son the other night. We were mostly discussing it within the context of our family. We talked about relational expectations and being mindful of what we're asking of others and how we ask it. Even at nine years old, I think he understood the basics.
Why people freak out
Have you ever seen someone lose it over some seemingly trivial thing? This is why. They lost their grip on their handful of pebbles.
That one pebble that you or someone else gave them was simply too much. It was the pebble that made the weight in their hand unbearable.
There were many pebbles being put into my hand when I decided to quit teaching. To be fair, it's not like we can stop this from happening. It's the cost of human interaction.
I still remember the two-ton pebble that finally made my hands collapse and spill my pebbles everywhere. I'm positive it was a such a small thing from the other person's perspective.
But it was still a thing. It was one thing. It was one pebble. And putting that pebble in my hand was all it took.
No really, how much does it weigh?
So how much does a pebble weigh? We'll never truly know. It all depends on whose hand you place it in. I know I need to be mindful of how I'm putting pebbles into others' hands.
It's just a pebble, but it's still something.
This post was inspired by Merlin Mann's thoughts on responding to e-mail.