The Starfish Story

An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach.  One day, as he looked along the shore, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young girl and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.

“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die,” she replied.

“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it?  You cannot possibly make a difference.”

The young girl listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying: “It made a big difference to that one.”

Adapted from the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley

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