Andy Andrews wrote a short book a while back called “The Butterfly Effect.” One of the stories he talks about in the book is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s role in the Battle at Gettysburg. Josh (can I call him Josh?) was a 34 year old school teacher guy who, at just the right moment, decided to charge instead of retreat.

Forgive me if I’m butchering history here, but apparently people think if he’d retreated, the rebels would have won at Gettysburg and then they would have won the whole Civil War. And I guess that would’ve divided up our country to a bunch of small countries to the extent that our lives & the lives of a lot of people around the world would be so completely different that it’s impossible to imagine.

Who knows why he yelled “Charge!” instead of “Retreat!” or “You’se guys do what you want, but I’m out of here” or something? Maybe he figured he’d rather die than go back to grading papers (tablets? scrolls?). Or maybe he was just trying to look brave in front of his little brother. I’m guessing we’ll never know.

But Andy Andrews puts it like this…

“You are no less an example of the butterfly effect than Chamberlain was. Everything you do matters. Every move you make, every action you take…matters.

Not just to you, or your family, or your business or hometown. Everything you do matters to all of us forever.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how some people appear in your life at exactly the right moment to say something or do something to alter your thoughts or behavior enough to completely change your world. Or maybe even the World.

It may be a friend that talks you out of a stupid decision, or it may be the kid selling lemonade that causes you to drive a different route home from work. We could spend years analyzing “what if” scenarios and still not have it figured out. That’s such a cool thing about life.

And as I think about all the people who have influenced my life, knowingly or not, I naturally have to wonder what might be different if I didn’t exist. Not in an “I’m-about-to-jump-in-the-river-&-need-Clarence-to-save-me” kind of way, but just in an appreciative amazement of all the things that have to happen for a human being to come into existence & be raised & taught & turn into a legit person.

Despite how we may act, none of us live in a vacuum. The way we live & the decisions we make affect everyone around us…not just our friends, family & co-workers.

“Everything you do matters to all of us forever.”

Homework: Read “The Butterfly Effect”.

Extra Credit: Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” even if it isn’t Christmas.


Bo is currently living in Orange Beach, Alabama trying to come up with ways to fund a sailing trip around the world. If you’d like to be a part of the adventure, consider sponsoring a mile.