The Starfish Story

Adopted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eisley

I hold a firm belief that each and everyone of us is here on earth to make a difference in the lives of those around us.  No one is insignificant and no random act of kindness too small.

I’ve known this since I was a little boy; since my father first told me the story of the starfish and how another little boy in his own small way made a big difference in the world.

Early one morning as a Grandfather and his grandson were walking along the beach they came across a starfish that had washed up on the shore during high tide.

The grandson reached down and gently picked up the starfish, still moist and alive. “It’s beautiful, Grandpa, what’s going to happen to it?” the boy asked.

The grandfather replied that the starfish would eventually die.  Sensing his grandson’s sadness, he quickly explained it was okay because the starfish would become a source of food for other sea creatures.  He told the boy that he should not be sad because it is all part of the cycle of life.

The boy replied, “You mean it’s going to die, grandpa?”

A few minutes later, the grandfather sat down to read his newspaper and enjoy his morning coffee.  After awhile, he noticed that his grandson had wandered down the beach.  He called out, “Son, what are you doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing the starfish back into the ocean.”

“I can see that. I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing the starfish in the ocean?”

“The sun is up and the tide is going out.  And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“Oh, son, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. Not only on this beach, but thousands of beaches all around the world.”

“You can’t possibly make a difference!”

With childlike wisdom the grandson politely listened.  Then he bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, far past the breaking waves.  The young boy said, “That is true, but … I am making all the difference in the world to just this one.”

Make a difference in just one person’s life today with a big smile or a kind word or deed.  I call it throwing starfish.

What’s a starfish? It’s an act of kindness, a courtesy.  It is the gift of thoughtfulness or just being polite. It’s a word of encouragement or an expression of appreciation.

No matter how small or insignificant it may be. Throw it. It will make all the difference in the world.

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