“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

Maya Angelou

Once upon a time, in a small, quirky town nestled between the hills of Somewhere and Nowhere, lived a man named Harold. Harold was the kind of guy who, if he were a spice, would undoubtedly be flour. Not because he was fundamental or versatile, but because he was just plain bland. He worked as an accountant, a profession he chose because he thought it was the human equivalent of being in airplane mode.

Every day, Harold followed the same routine: wake up, work, eat a sandwich (always ham and cheese, no mayo, no surprises), watch a rerun of a show about people who had more exciting lives than he did, and sleep. His life was as predictable as a sitcom laugh track.

One day, while walking to work, Harold stumbled upon a peculiar sight: a street performer, juggling flaming torches while balancing on a unicycle. The performer, who introduced himself as Zippo, had a flair for the dramatic and a mustache that could host its own variety show. Zippo was collecting donations for a local charity, and something about his fiery juggling act ignited a spark in Harold.

On a whimsical impulse, Harold decided to donate. Not just a few coins, but a crisp twenty-dollar bill. The moment he dropped the bill into Zippo’s hat, something miraculous happened. It wasn’t a choir of angels or a sudden downpour of confetti, but Harold felt a strange sensation, like his heart had just done a somersault.

From that day on, Harold started to change. He began volunteering at the local animal shelter, where he discovered that he had a talent for calming nervous chihuahuas. He started donating books to the library and even joined a community garden, where he learned that he had a green thumb (and that he actually liked tomatoes).

With each act of giving, Harold felt more alive. His once monochrome world started to burst with color. He began to smile more, laugh louder, and even added mustard to his sandwiches (a wild move for someone like Harold).

The townsfolk started to notice the change. They no longer referred to him as “Harold the Bland” but as “Harold the Helper” or “Harold the Heartfelt.” Harold realized that in giving, he wasn’t just helping others—he was liberating his own soul from the shackles of monotony and indifference.

In the end, Harold learned that life wasn’t about accumulating things or following routines. It was about the joy of giving, the warmth of community, and the unexpected pleasure of a well-balanced chihuahua on your lap. And as for Zippo, he continued to juggle fire, unaware that his act had sparked a transformation in the most unlikely of people.

So, remember, when you feel like your life is as exciting as watching paint dry, try giving. It might just set your soul on fire (metaphorically speaking, of course).

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.