The Starfish Story

The Starfish Story
Adapted from the short story by Loren Eiseley

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 appeared all over the web in various forms. Sometimes it is a little girl throwing the starfish into the ocean, sometimes a young man. In any form it is a beautiful story and one that makes one think.



Image credit : Unsplash

27 thoughts on “The Starfish Story

  1. Wonderful story. We never know if or how we make a difference in the lives of others. As a Fulbright teacher in Germany, we were told that we may never know from our students if we had made a difference but that we had. And when we were back home again, those students would remember us. I felt the same way teaching German at all levels and sometimes, quite, unexpectedly, a student would thank me or tell me that the next year I would have a sibling in class. Parents often told me how much their sons and daughters valued me. Teaching was my passion and I did it to make the lives of others better: one student at a time. It only takes ONE person! Thank you for the entry.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This reminds me of a similar quote by mother teressa. She said something like- “I feel like what I do is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be still less because of that missing drop.”
    A great remainder that we need to take one step at a time atleast.


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  4. Reblogged this on INSPIRE and commented:
    I love that story and often repeat it to friends, who say “whats the point’ in trying to make a difference in the world. It all starts with ONE (the power of)
    thanks for posting, Kavita and all the best for 2020
    Together, one mind, one soul, one life, one small step at a time, let’s plant seeds of hope, then march together towards a better future…a far brighter tomorrow”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Starfish Story – BOOKS BY CRAIG LOCK

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