Be the Pebble

The informant is a Junior at USC majoring in Choral music.  He is from Santa Cruz California and says that he loves using proverbs in his every day life.


“Be the pebble, let the water wash over you.  Don’t be the boulder”.


The informant first heard this proverb from his parents and said that he uses it frequently.


This proverb was collected in a natural performance.  The informant said this proverb to me when I was complaining about how stressed I was.  For him, it is advice to someone who is stressed, telling them to let it go and not let things worry them.  For the informant it also means that if you worry about things, it just makes everything worse.

This proverb’s use of the imagery of flowing water to symbolize letting things go, living life and not worrying has similarities to phrases such as “go with the flow” and saying something is “water under the bridge”.  Differently from these other phrases, this collected proverb also incorporates the idea that the water of life, so to say, will “wash” over you.  The use of this word implies that the process of struggle is a cleansing one from which people emerge smoother and better, much like the pebbles along beaches or in stream beds are polished by the flow of the water.

This proverb could also be used to advise someone to not stand in opposition to the way things are going, although when the informant used this proverb it did not have this meaning.  Boulders stand against the water and as a result are broken down.  In this aspect, this proverbs holds close ties to the proverb “go with the flow”, as both use water imagery to give advice against combating the current situation and letting things happen as they will.