Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
Often times it is easy to believe we are not making a difference, that we are too young or too powerless.
To strive in the world so deeply rooted in negativity, so easily moulded by the media that tells us how we should act, look, or be, we must make ourselves aware of how our outlook affects those around us. We are influential towards our friends, family members and many others; and when we are negative, we spread this negativity to our surroundings. However, looking at something optimistically rather than pessimistically gives us a happier point of view which we project and allows others to do the same.
Evidently, not everyone will have this same mindset. The world is populated with over 7 billion people- but in order to create a more positive world, we have to start somewhere. Making a difference starts with simple gestures. Smiling at others as you walk down a busy street can make for a more positive environment. Personalized gestures, like writing a thank you letter to someone who has made an impact in your life or calling that one friend you haven’t spoken to in ages can really brighten someone’s mood. You never know who’s having a bad day.
What we often forget is that making a difference doesn’t mean we need to change the world. However, as we change individual lives, we slowly begin to change the world.
So do one nice thing today- throw one starfish back into the ocean. Slowly but surely if more people started exuberating positivity and kindness, the environment that we surround ourselves in will turn into a brighter and more welcoming place.