Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Starfish Story

I love my life in Blogland.  I learn so much every day from all of my Blog friends worldwide.
Not only do I love reading some of my favourite blogs, but I also love reading some of the comments left by other posters.
It's always so amazing to me, how similar we all are, our thoughts, our words, our deeds, yet we live in such far flung places on the earth.
One of my favourite blogs is Angus at the Rickety Old Farmhouse . A couple of days ago, he posted about a little Jain lady in India who was helping the dog population in her neighbourhood by extending her little bit of kindness in any way she could.  This included feeding, medicating or doctoring, or just giving a word of encouragement to any stray dog that crossed her path. What a saint.
As I read this story, I immediately thought that even her small contribution was equivalent to the proverbial drop in the bucket, but I consoled myself that it was better to have a drop in a bucket than none at all.
Like many commenters to his post, I also remembered the story of the Starfish, which demonstrates quite eloquently why we should always jump in to help, no matter how big the task at hand may seem, and even though we may think our small contribution won't go very far.
There are many versions to the story of the Starfish, but they all have the same outcome, and they all portray the same moral "you can make a difference, no matter how small your contribution."
So here is the Starfish Story.

"While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
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.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
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 elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise 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 man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

 “A single, ordinary person still can make a difference – and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day.”
Chris Bohjalian, Vermont-based author and speaker


  1. How very interesting Virginia. I hadn't heard the starfish story although somewhere in the deep recesses of what passes for my mind I can recall something similar. I am also fascinated that you should point me to The Rickety Old Farmhouse. I used to follow Wilf The Pom and I knew about their story. I'm not sure where or when I lost contact with their escapades. It truly is a huge but very small world.

  2. Every so often the Starfish Story or something similar comes through my Inbox, so it circulates quite often.
    I discovered Wilf the Pon after my dog Shaggy went blind and I was doing some online research.
    I have both Wilf the Pon, and the Rickety Old Farmhouse listed on my blog sidebar.


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