It Does Make a Difference

starfish
Story adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

This is an old tale, but it is always inspiring:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, ”Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
. . .

Comments

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    1. #167 Dad: Got it from a fellow teacher!

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  2. I love this story. Such an inspirational message.

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    1. Karen: We need a few more like this.

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  3. Yep, no matter how small, its still a difference! :-) better than none, right?

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    1. Julia: We do need more positivity in our lives.

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  5. This is truly the idea that keeps people who care going, isn't it?
    Often we lament about the ones that we couldn't save and yet we have to keep going, doing what we can. Might as well do it with a smile on our face!

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    1. Jasmine: Yes. I resurrect this story every now and then to remind myself.

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  6. This is a great story. It shows two very different perspectives on the same situation. One person looks at it and is so overwhelming that it isn't worth doing. The other looks at it and thinks, "I can't save them all, but I can save as many as I can and that is good." And so it goes for us. Chances are we will never be put in a situation where we are even asked to save hundreds or thousands, but opportunities come along all of the time when we can save one. Mother Teresa saved thousands, but she never looked at it from that viewpoint. If so, it would have been overwhelming. Instead, when asked, she always said she was just helping one person at a time. One person at a time. One starfish at a time. It makes a difference to that one! Sure enough.

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    1. Robin: It is a great story. I have one for you when I see you. Just remind me. I have a close personal friend who won the Nobel Peace Prize with Mother Teresa in 1981. When we have lunch, I will share the story.

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  7. A great story for all. What a joy to read.

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    1. Karen: I agree. We need more of this kind of joy. Thank you.

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  8. A lovely story! And I returned the favor. ;)

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    1. Leandra: It is a good one. Thank you!

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  9. Is the boy an idealist or a realist...and the old man, is he a skeptic, a pessimist or a realist? It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

    Great story! I enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Van: I don't think they are mutually exclusive. The realist knows he cannot save everyone, but the idealist does what he can. I believe in Nature, and saving individuals is natural to me.

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  10. Thanks for this uplifting story with a great message JJ!

    Julie

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    1. Julie: We need more positivity. Sticking my head in the sand has never been my way, but we must nurture the good stuff so we can grow. I am on a nurturing kick.

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  11. Hi JJ .. it certainly does make a difference - if only we could all do just that one thing now, and then another ... it doesn't take much.

    Cheers HIlary

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    1. Hilary: I wholeheartedly agree. Cheers!

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  12. That is a great story!!! I love it!

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    1. Miranda: I am happy it made you happy!

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  13. Great story ... its easy to make a difference by helping wherever you can, regardless of how small the effort may seem to others

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  14. Wonderful story. It says to me that no matter how small, we can make a difference in this world.

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    1. J.L.: Thank you. That it is, and that it does. This story is a lesson for all of us.

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  15. Every small thing will make a difference and if each person would do a small task it would make a big difference. It's easy to let yourself be discourage when you see the size of a task. The task stays large until you pull up your sleeves and start and each action whittles down the size of the task ahead. :-)

    Good story to show that lesson.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. Sia: I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes those things that seem small to us are huge to others.

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  16. Lovely story and one I had not heard before. The boy's attitude is one that I always respect.

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  17. Aw I love it! I think of this all the time nowadays, and have a similar blog post planned on the power of one. :D
    We truly never know when and who we make a difference for.

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    1. PK: Very true. If we keep trying, our turns will come. Thanks for the follow!

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  18. It's a wonderful life. It's a wonderful story.

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  19. I have not heard this story before JJ but I like it! Any act of kindness makes a difference, I love the message within this tale. Beautiful!

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    1. Katherine: I thought of you with this story. It is you!

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    2. Oh....thank you JJ, you're so sweet!

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    3. This comment here JJ made me cry, thankyou x

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  20. I've always loved that tale. It's a good reminder.

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    1. Lynda: Yes. I resurrect it every so often.

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  21. A wonderful story!
    When you save one life it is as if you saved the entire world.
    -Talmud-

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    1. lotus-eater: Yes. The principle forms the basis of many religious tenets.

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  22. Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comment. I'm thinking it maybe time to change your blog's name to 'Connected Writer' ....you have some very faithful followers.

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    1. Helen: Thank you! My followers are connected, indeed. I am the loose canon (but I'm nice).

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    2. you are no loose canon in my book, if you are, we all are. :-))

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    3. Linda: Thank you. You are a nice person.

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  23. I love this story. It's one of my favorites, and I've used a version of it on my blog a couple times, too.

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    1. Susan: Everyone loves positivity!

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