Have you seen this story/quote from 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.”
I’ve mentioned how important volunteering is to me before. I get a little blue if I don’t help out regularly – the world seems like everything in my head and I lose perspective. That is one reason I became a “Big” in Big Brothers, Big Sisters. It’s also one of the reasons I wanted to start fostering dogs again. It’s good to get out of my own head for a while and concentrate on someone or something else.
I know that the dogs that I helped in the Houston SPCA for the main year I was there were just a few in thousands, the people I delivered meals for with Meals on Wheels would have had a different driver if I wasn’t there, and the two ladies I bonded with in hospice care both had family that was there for them too…BUT, I helped. It doesn’t matter if I could only help a few since a few is definitely better than none. I’m keeping that little story in mind when I get bogged down with how insignificant each of us seem individually…if we all contribute just a little, we’d make an astounding difference.
What’s your starfish?