The Starfish Story
(Adapted from the Star Thrower)
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)
Onceupon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do hiswriting. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began hiswork.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, helooked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. Hesmiled 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 hewas doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down tothe 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."
Uponhearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you notrealize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfishall along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
Atthis, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, andthrew it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made adifference for that one."