"Hit!" 24 paddles across four boats enter the glassy water in silent fury. In mine, six sinewy arms extend as one, our strength lifting us forward.
Minutes later, coach's distant scream: "Stop!" Our competition dots the pink horizon behind us, reflecting off our sweaty, grinning faces.
Coach squints over at me. "Kid, switch to that last boat." The smooth surface ripples as I swim to the outrigger balancing our team's smallest men.
Another run: "Hit!" Hands out, eyes clear, muscles tensed, I pull water with everything I have. And when we stop, that same golden sunset now illuminates our boat, way out front.
After, as I drip across the dusky parking lot to my car, coach calls over to me. "Kid—you did good today. You mattered."
And I want to matter every day, even when it's hard to tell, or no one else sees.
By doing my part with passion, pride, and care—and then doing more.
By inspiring those around me to reach higher and go farther.
By striving to lead a world not just as it is, but as it should be.
For then—whether my waves extend over generations or for just minutes—my life will have mattered.