Spring sprinkles kiss the tall green grass as a light wind makes the stems flow like dancers in unison. The long porch is entertained by the droplets pinging off the metal roof like BB’s. Mindlessly I watch droplets dangle off the branches of wet spring foliage and drop into the puddles below, each drop creating a circle of waves as it hits, pushing farther and farther out from its center until one circle intersects another. These puddles are filled with waves created by the little circles. Though there is science behind the inertia of the droplet, the energy and movement, I can’t help but wonder what purpose they serve.

Throwing a pebble into a still pond makes a slight ripple, while a larger rock makes a visible splash and pushes much larger waves much farther out. The bigger the rock, the bigger the wave, the bigger its reach.

The Weight of Droplets

You, me, and others are droplets into the water of the lives around us. Our waves touch and intersect, and often ripple through the world.

Though soft-spoken and quiet, some of us have an impact and a ripple that make change happen. Others, with a larger platform, a louder voice, and greater influence, spread our ripples over longer distances. And, like the puddle in front of me, a small circular wave intersects with another small wave, which intersects with others … passing information from one to another as waves cross.

Though volume and a large platform tend to get heard more, a soft voice with powerful words can ripple through the world with equal or stronger impact. Words at a whisper often have more power than at a scream.

Yet one thing is required for your voice, even your quiet words, to be heard. They have to be spoken. The droplet has to hit the water in order to be amplified.

The Famous Unknown Artist

In my art marketing training, I speak of an artist who died unknown, but whose work was discovered after his death and ultimately exhibited in major museums. A soft-spoken postal worker in England, he never told a soul about his work. He was a loner with no known friends or family. We’ll never know if he created his art with hopes of one day being noticed, or if he did it for himself and never cared for recognition. The only reason his droplet hit the puddle was because his landlord discovered the art upon this artist’s death. Perhaps, if he had revealed his art to the world while living, he could have enjoyed the impact of his art and seen the effect of his ripple.

It was lucky he was discovered at all. Another, less perceptive landlord might have hauled it all to a dumpster and a life’s work may have been wasted.

Meek and Reserved

I recently met someone who was quiet, meek, and almost unable to speak for herself but revealed to me that she had dreams of becoming a famous artist. Yet her fears of speaking up were preventing her from realizing her dreams. I coached her on how to overcome these issues, and she is already starting to come out of her shell after staying inside it for almost 50 years. Now, her droplets are about to hit the water.

I’m thankful she spoke up and shared this fear, but in the process she was hoping someone would solve her problem for her. And though I nudged her with some advice, she had not fully accepted the fact that her future was in her own hands, and waiting for someone else to solve her problems was folly. One wonders what kind of parenting left a child with such insecurities.

I firmly believe each of us is placed here for a very specific purpose and that it’s our responsibility to make sure that our droplets hit the water and spread. We may think we have nothing to offer or that others don’t want to hear from us, or we may fear speaking up or stepping out — yet if we don’t do it for ourselves, who will?

Waiting for Prince Charming

Too often we wait for things to be perfect, but waiting for perfection is an excuse to take no action. Or we wait for permission, or for someone to come along and rescue us and make our dreams happen, but Prince Charming never comes. We can’t wait for the knight in shining armor or for someone to give us permission. We have to be our own advocate. Though “random” discoveries happen, they don’t happen a lot.

Lives can be wasted because of our fears. The ripple from what we have to offer may never be experienced by others until we discover how to advocate for ourselves.

Ask yourself this…

Which is worse? Never experiencing your dreams, or living with the fear that something bad might happen if you step out and try?

I’ve met hundreds of people who are writing books that will never be published because the books never get done. When I probe why, it usually boils down to fear of failure. Books that never get written never get published.

Excuses are fears in disguise.

You know the excuses … “I don’t have enough money, time, experience, education, degrees, connections, knowledge … I’m afraid of failure, being laughed at, getting rejected, someone won’t like me if I’m successful.” Or, “No one wants to hear what I have to say. I don’t have the advantages of others.”

Our lives are meant to change the lives of others, and each of us has something to offer that needs to be heard, seen, and experienced by the world.

What is stopping you from dropping your pebble in the water?


Eric Rhoads

PS: Last week close to a thousand artists gathered at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in San Francisco. There is no way to explain or articulate the experience, but I watched lives changed thanks to the generous faculty members who taught and worked with others. I am grateful to everyone who came, and I want to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.

I met hundreds of Sunday Coffee readers who came to learn more about the plein air lifestyle experience. It was good to have many of you take that first step. I also met dozens of people who did their first plein air painting, and some who did their first painting of any kind. Thanks for trusting us to show you how.  We announced our next event will be in May 2020 in Colorado, and as of this morning, we’ve already sold 411 seats — a year in advance. If you want to come, but you’re fearing it, the quarter-inch step is to sign up now so you have all year to look forward to it.