The Starfish Story

imageOnce 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, “I made a difference to that one!”

After reading this parable the other day I was struck by the beautiful simplicity of it.

That young man could have looked at the entire beach and given up, not even attempting to throw one starfish into the ocean but instead he looked more at what he could do and did it.  If had thought of it as the wise man had then not one starfish would’ve been saved.

So many people in this world sit back and go…

“I can’t do anything, the problems in this world or just too great”

“Its not my problem why should I bother”

“I’m not even going to try, what’s the point, helping one person won’t solve the problem”

The list of things people say goes on and on with no end.  I once told a friend of mine that I hoped in my next life I would have the tools available to me to make a greater impact on the world.  She turned round and said that I have them in this life but could not see it.

She then told me about the drop of water hitting a large lake, that small drop of water makes ripples.  Those ripples spread outwards and connect with other ripples and eventually the tides change.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are or where you are, we all have the capacity within us to make a difference.

It’s up to you what you do in this world, a simple act of kindness and thought goes along way, the ripples far reaching.

How do you see the world?

Do you see it as the wise man or do you see it as the younger one throwing the starfish back into the ocean?

10 thoughts on “The Starfish Story

  1. I’m with the young man. I do try to change things that seem futile. I just hate litter and pick it up when I see it and would never, ever throw anything out my window. I’ve stopped before and made my husband get out of the car and pick up something he threw out!! I’m not joking.

    Great analogy Sanity.

  2. I am the young man. . . . I’m pie in the sky as my friends and family call me; but I’d rather be pie then perhaps doo doo any day. Great story; had it not been for the few who thought like this young man; many star fish would have dried up in the sun, myself included.

    PLL, CordieB.

  3. I too am the young man. I think we touch more people w/ our lives than we realize, and most of the time God does not permit us to see just how many and to what degree this side of eternity…or it might go to our head….but once in a while, he does pull back the curtail and give us a glimpse. I’d heard this story before too and love the profound simplicity of it. Thanks

  4. I’ve always suspected that when we die, we would get a ‘review’ of our life that showed us everyone we ever impacted (good or bad) and how. Your review is going to be longer than you think!

  5. What is comes down to, no matter how big the problems of the Universe, is that we made the difference to that starfish…. one at a time.

    I am because you are, to the core of Ubuntu…..

  6. Deeps dahlink then its a good thing that I am still young huh punk? Go eat a chocolate or something tsk tsk I did misses you!

    Joy knowing people like you exist in the world makes me smile and fills me with warmth unquantified. Just that one piece of trash that you guys pick up makes an impact on the rest of us. Can you imagine if more people just stopped to pick something up and put it in where it belongs, the bin? Aye we are moving towards this in all areas I think

    Cordie you speak from my heart, yes if it weren’t for people like the young man I too would’ve been a dried out starfish. Each single one of us makes a difference, sometimes a bigger one than we can imagine.

    DM, it depends on your beliefs and how one looks at things but the truth is as you say it, we have such a big impact that we often don’t even know about. I smile has saved lives, I am testament.

  7. Amber thank you that is one of the most amazing compliments I have ever received, wows

    Jinxie you have no idea how even in this short time since we reconnected what difference you have made to my life alone, I can only imagine the number of people you have helped in your life so far… I know that it is more than you think, believe or can even imagine

    Hayden, thanks you, I know for sure that yours is far longer than you believe and think… you have a great impact on this earth.

    Vanessa you hit the nail on the head sis!

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