The Starfish on the Beach
You can’t save them all
A man walked down to the beach to have a think about all of the problems going on in the world. He was feeling quite hopeless after reading the news about catastrophic events like wildfires, flooding with mudslides, and the ridiculous political issues.
When he reached the beach he saw a young boy walking along picking something up off the beach and throwing it into the water. In his emotional state, he assumed the boy was throwing trash into the ocean, another world problem that he could do nothing about.
After a few moments of standing there alone, he wasn’t feeling the peace he had come for so he headed toward the boy. He thought maybe giving him a piece of his mind would help him feel better.
As he got closer he realized the boy wasn’t picking up trash, but starfish. The beach was covered with starfish that must have been washed up in the tide. There were so many he felt overwhelmed yet again and he asked the boy, “what are you doing?”
“Putting them back where they belong.”
“But why? There are so many, it won’t make any difference.”
The boy held his hands out so the man could see a small starfish and as he tossed it he said, “It did for that one.”
Soon the man was stooping down to pick up the starfish with the little boy and releasing them one by one back into the ocean. He was surprised by the peace it brought him doing this small act of service for the starfish stranded by the tide.
He started to wonder how he could apply this to the other problems in his life. He asked the boy, “Will you stay here until they are all saved.”
“No, my mom will worry if I’m not back by lunch. But at least when I go I know I’ve done what I can. That’s all I can ever do.”
An extremely loose adaptation of “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley