The Starfish Story by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
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, 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!”
As if he hadn’t heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, “I made a difference to that one!”
Making a Difference
There is much pain and suffering in this world. Yet it does not take much to make a difference or to bring happiness into the lives of people. Just look at the example of the Duchess Catherine. Her mere presence alone brought immense joy into the life of little Diamond Marshall. You see Diamond, who is only 6 years old, suffers from cancer. And when the Duchess found out that it was Diamond’s fondest wish to meet a real life princess, she made it come through. I believe this act went some way in helping to give Diamond the strength and courage to face her upcoming battle.
In truth, we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. And the good thing is that we do not need a big and dramatic gesture to make a difference. As the starfish story and the example of the Duchess Catherine shows, the little things matter. It could be a kind word, hug or a listening ear when someone needs it the most. Or it could be the giving of our time to help someone out. Even gratitude can make a difference because it lets others know we appreciate them and the difference they made in our lives. If each one of us made five people happy each day, the world would be a much happier place.
How else can we make a difference in the lives of others? Do share your thoughts and comments below!