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Skipping Stones

“The smooth stone skipped and then was gone.
But hundreds of ripples circled on and on.
Flowing to the shores of a distant sea.
Then floating back again through time to me.”

I remember watching him pick up and skip stones across the surface of the water as we walked along the river’s edge. I wanted to do that—wanted to learn—and he promised to teach me one summer, a long time ago.

He kept the promise and I watched and listened well.

He showed me which stones to look for—small, smooth and rounded—ones I could easily hold in my hand. Soon it was easy for me to spot them. I picked them up, looked at the shape and felt the weight within my hand.

Next he showed me how to grip the stone—between my index finger and thumb—while letting the stone rest on my middle finger for balance. I practiced the grip until it felt comfortable and I had control.

I watched him throw stone after stone, following with my eyes, as each one skipped lightly across the surface of the water. Concentric ripples fanned out from each place the stone touched—then touched and skipped again—until finally it slipped beneath the water.

He showed me how to throw the stone—sidearm, low and parallel to the water’s surface—releasing with a snap of my wrist, giving it horizontal spin from my index finger as it left my hand. Thrown perfectly, a stone can skip along the surface five, six, maybe seven or eight times. I remember counting his skips and wondering if we would ever be counting mine.

Each time we walked and talked…I practiced. At first, my stones hit the water and sank. Again and again I threw stones out—checking and correcting my grip and launch technique—remembering his words, his instructions and his example.

I began to believe it was possible. I could do this. I would do this.

And one day it happened. I skipped my very first stone along banks of the Mississippi River. I don’t remember the date, or the time or even the exact place, but even to this very day…I remember the feeling. Joy. I felt joy that welled from deep within. The joy of accomplishment in learning something new, something I would share with others through out my life.

Everything in life starts with a goal, a desire, a dream—followed by hard work, practice and determination to succeed—with a little luck thrown in for good measure.

As a child, I learned never to give up…never to give in. We never know who or where the ripples we send out into the world will touch or when they will come full circle to touch our lives once again.

Desire, direction, determination…success!

~ C L Gillmore~

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