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?