Twigs in the Stream

If there’s a secret to life, I don’t know it.

If there’s a formula for success other than working hard and keeping my word, I’ve never seen it.

If there’s a way to guarantee that my country remain a place my kids can be proud of, as I am, as my father is, I’m not aware of it.

But this weekend, I had the honor of spending a few hours with my Boy Scout troop, learning from nine young men a little more about how to live in this world. It’s possible that something I said to one of them might make a difference down the line, this week or next week or next year or in ten years. It could be that I will make a different decision next year because of something one of them said to me this weekend. It’s likely that, one day, they will remember their scoutmaster and the example he sets for them and ask themselves how he might deal with a situation that faces them.

There were no great flashes of brilliance. There were no great speeches or acts of great courage. But for forty hours or so, nine scouts and four adults depended on each other, had fun together, did things they don’t usually do. And I have to believe it made a difference, at least to some of us.

We all dream of what we will do when our moment of greatness comes. We dream of being the one who stands before the overwhelming flood of wrong and bends the world to his will, acts as the dam that turns aside the tide and returns the world to the course of greatness we imagine it has slipped from.

But it’s not the moment of greatness that changes the world. It’s not the one who stands before the flood and turns the tide. It’s all the normal moments, all the days we get up and do what we can and go to bed wondering whether anything we did made a difference, that lead to the great moments. It’s all of us who live our lives, working hard and keeping our word and trying to make a difference to the people we meet, who float along like twigs in the stream, who become tangled with other twigs to make little rafts that make us all stronger. And one day we reach a place where little rafts can become big rafts, and we begin tangling ourselves together tighter and tighter, first fighting the current, then spanning the stream, then, with the help of a master builder, changing its course altogether.

The great one, the master builder, can’t change anything without twigs to work with. And we can’t become part of the dam without going through all the days, all the miles, from here to there.

Today, I will choose to make a difference. I will reach out my hand and show love to others. I will do my best to be a part of my little raft, conscious all the while that what I do today will make a difference somewhere down the stream.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Ken Davis

    Very inspiring. Keep it up. You make a difference.

    • H. Scott Dalton

      Thanks, Ken! Writing this felt like pulling teeth. I’m glad you found it useful.