The Mower
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Philip Larkin

Life, they say, is short. This isn’t just a cliché trotted out at milestone birthdays or in the pages of self-help books; it’s a fundamental truth. The brevity of our existence is not something to lament, but rather a prompt to action. It’s a nudge, a gentle reminder that every day is ripe with opportunities, not just for self-improvement, but for improving the world around us.

Think about it. Each morning, we wake up with a fresh stock of 24 hours. Sure, we spend a good chunk of that time working, commuting, or watching videos of cats who are, inexplicably, terrified of cucumbers. But within those hours, there are countless moments where we can make a difference. And I’m not talking about grand, sweeping gestures that will land us in the history books. I’m talking about small, everyday acts of kindness.

You see, the world is like a giant echo chamber. What we put out there tends to come back to us, often in ways we never expect. Hold the door for a stranger, offer a genuine compliment, listen—really listen—when someone talks to you. These are the echoes we can create. They might seem insignificant in isolation, but together, they form a symphony of goodwill, a chain reaction of kindness that can stretch far beyond our immediate circle.

Ultimately, the length of our life is not nearly as important as what we choose to do with it. By making the world a slightly better place, one small act at a time, we’re not just passing through—we’re leaving a legacy. It’s an opportunity, a privilege, and a responsibility. So, let’s embrace it with open arms and open hearts. Let’s make our short time on this planet count, not just for ourselves, but for those around us. After all, the echoes of kindness are the most enduring legacy we can leave behind.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.