My husband and I recently spent a week on Longboat Key, Florida. Our two-bedroom condo, albeit rather rustic in appearance, was located right on the beach, which meant that all we had to do was go down a flight of stairs and we were directly on the sand. The sunsets were spectacular, the beach uncrowded and the water a tepid lukewarm temperature.
Each time we walked along the beach we spent considerable time delving through pile upon pile of shells. Many were a delight to behold but the highlight was a live starfish floating gently to and fro in about ¼” of water. I had never seen one before, nor had friends who had lived at the beach for years. That starfish reminded me of the following story…
The Starfish Story
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”
(adapted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
So ask yourself, have you made a difference for someone or something today? Perhaps it was an action so small you don’t even remember… a kind word … a smile … a helping hand. It may not have seemed like much but it could have made a difference!