This is just a very short “adaptation” of the Starfish story. It’s written by Loren Eiseley and is included in his book The Star Thrower which is a collection of his favorite essays and poems.
I find this little story so heartwarming. A great lesson for us all. I remember that as a child, I wanted to save everyone and everything. You know, make the world a better place. When you’re young and innocent, you really believe that you can. As you grow older though, reality and life sets in. And with all the horrible things going on in the world right now, it’s so easy to give up and say “What difference is it going to make?”
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 girl, and that what she was doing was not dancing at all.
The young girl was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them in to the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good Morning!” May I ask what you are doing?”
The young girl 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 perplexed wise man.
To this, the young girl replied “The sun is up and the tide is going. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die”. Upon hearing this, the wise man commented,
“But young lady, 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!”
The young girl bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, she said “It matters to that one”.