Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can You Save A Starfish?

Do you know The Starfish Story? It's a story about the power of helping one person and how we can each make a difference. Every once in awhile, I question my own ability to make a difference in the world because I don't have the power of celebrity or as the Leader of the Free World to truly affect change. But I always come back to this story and remember if some random act of kindness touches just one person, then it's worth it.

One thing that I try to do everyday is to smile at strangers and greet them - not engage in conversation, but more of a hello with a smile on my face. This may sound a little silly until you think about how many people live alone. It's possible that no one has smiled at the people I encounter in days. It's even more likely that someone I smile at and greet kindly has had someone treat them rudely at some point recently. My smiles may not create world peace (yet), but I know that when people smile at me it changes my day for the better, so I assume I have the same effect. A great side effect is that smiling and greeting others warmly also helps keep me in a good mood.

Enjoy the Starfish Story.

The Starfish Story
adapted from The Star Thrower
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, 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."

This story has gone all over the internet, usually without crediting Mr. Eiseley. Motivational speaker Joel Barker may have been one of the first to share The Starfish Story and credit Mr. Eiseley.

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