Starfish Story

The Starfish Story – A Modern Day Parable

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There was a young man who was about 23 years old. This young man spent most of his free time on the beach. In fact, his friends and family knew that if he wasn’t around he was likely at the beach. He loved the beach. He loved the sand, the water, the smell, everything about it he simply loved. He especially enjoyed relaxing and resting on the sands while gazing at the ocean.

One night as he was relaxing while watching and listening to the sound of the rolling ocean waves, he drifted off to sleep. He slept peacefully and uneventfully. He awoke just before sunrise.

For miles around he saw hundreds and hundreds of starfish all over on the beach.

The young man got up and strolled down the beach, taking in the site of all the starfish. As he did so, he came across a young lady. She was probably no more than 14 years old. He watched, however, as she reached down, picked up a starfish, and threw it back into the ocean.

He couldn’t understand this. It made no sense to him. After all, there were so many starfish laying on the beach she’d never be able to get them all back into the water. So he decided to talk to her.

As he approached her she reached down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the water.

The young man asked her, “What are you doing?”

She smile, surprised someone else was on the beach, and responded “Oh! Well, every early morning the tide washes the starfish up onto the beach. They die if they lay out and dry up in the Sun. So, every morning before school I come out here and throw them back into the water.”

He laughed and shook his head while looking over the whole beach.

“That’s stupid” he told her. “There must be thousands of starfish laying around out here! There is no way that what you’re doing is going to make any difference at all. You’ll never get all of them back into the ocean before they dry out.”

The teen stopped and looked at the young man for a long moment. She finally sighed and responded, “Well, I suppose you’re right.”

Then she reached down, picked up another starfish, and looked at the young man while she threw it back into the ocean.

“But I sure made a difference to that one, and to all the one’s that I do reach.”


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