Have you ever heard the star thrower story?
It’s a lovely little parable (check out the link above) about the difference in view between a young boy and an old man both confronted with tens of thousands of starfish washed up on a beach after a storm.
The old man see’s the young boy occasionally throwing a starfish back into the water, and realising the futility of it all, tells the young child “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”.
In answer to this, the little boys bends down and throws another starfish into the water and says “It made a difference to that one!“.
I heard this story years and years ago, and it resonated with me. I have always tried to hold onto the belief of the little boy. Even if faced with ridiculous odds, I wanted to think that at least I’d try to do something.
Life can sometimes be literal, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been walking the dogs and have come across the odd sausage jelly (which is an egg sac) washed up on the beach, and so I’ve diligently bent down, picked them up, and tossed them back into the ocean.
It was easy at first, there were only a few and so I could be the hero saving them all. It was my small good deed for the day.
But then last week, I started finding myself stopping every few metres and tossing one back into the surf. It was (to be honest) a little frustrating.
Today, I walked down to the beach and suddenly there were thousands of them …
I initially tossed them into the water, but soon felt both the futileness of the old man at such an endevour and the desire of the young boy to at least do something.
Problem was that as I tossed each egg sac into the water, I couldn’t help but notice how small a difference it really did make.
I guess there’s a lesson in that … I’m just still learning what it is.