“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

Paul Coelho

Imagine, if you will, life as one big, sprawling ocean. Not the kind you’d find in a glossy travel brochure, but the real, messy kind where you’re just as likely to encounter a discarded plastic bottle as you are a majestic dolphin. On this vast watery stage, waves rise and fall, each with its own fleeting opinion. Some waves are like those people who talk at the cinema—loud and impossible to ignore. Others are more like the whispers of a shy person at a raucous party. Fleeting, often drowned out, but there nonetheless.

Now, if you’ve ever tried swimming beyond where your feet can touch the bottom (proceeding nervously with the Jaws’ theme music playing in your head), you’d know about the currents. They’re the sneaky forces that decide whether you’re having a leisurely swim or an impromptu journey to the next beach over. These currents, not as showy as the waves but infinitely more powerful, are your actions in this watery world of ours.

Enter Keith. My old neighbor who, in a twist no one saw coming, suddenly became an impromptu Alaskan fisherman. Seriously, the man had never so much as mentioned fishing, salmon, or even a passing interest in Alaska. But one summer, he returned not with a sunburn or tales of bear encounters, but with an obscene amount of salmon. Seriously, enough to make a bear question its career choices.

During a casual dinner at his place, where we were passionately arguing about who was the real genius behind a certain 80s ballad, Keith unveiled his fishy treasure. The debate, much like my attempt to explain the plot of “The Matrix” to my parents, was quickly forgotten.

Keith, with his knack for pulling unexpected feats out of thin air, had shifted the evening’s current. It was as if he’d performed a culinary magic trick right before our eyes, turning a simple fish into an unforgettable feast. That feast is a reminder that while we might ride the waves of fleeting opinions, it’s the deeper, purposeful actions that truly set our course.

So, the next time you find yourself adrift in the vast ocean of life, amidst the waves of chatter and the floating debris of unsolicited advice, remember: it’s the currents, those purposeful actions, that make a lasting impact.

Dive deep, swim with intent, and for heaven’s sake, if you find Keith’s secret fishing spot, do let me know.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community 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.