You know you are hanging out with the right kind of friends, when, on a day you most need it, you are gifted with a beautiful starfish and the words “You make a difference every day!”
The original Starfish Story was part of a 16-page essay called “The Star Thrower” written by Loren Eiseley (1907–1977) and was published in 1969 in The Unexpected Universe. The darker and more complex encounter in Eiseley’s story has been the inspiration for many adaptations. A popular version today goes something like this:
“An old man walking along the beach at sunrise came upon a young man sifting through the debris left by the night’s tide. Every now and then, he would pick up a starfish and fling it back to the sea.
The old man asked him the purpose of his efforts.
“The Tide has washed the starfish onto the beach. They will die unless I throw them back.”
The old man looked around at the miles of beach.
“There are more starfish than you could ever save. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.”
The young man bent to pick up another starfish. As he sent the starfish sailing back to the water, he said to the old man, “I can make a difference to this one.”
These adaptations are compelling and beautifully told, but they leave out a key part of the original story. In THE STAR THROWER, the two people later encounter each other on the beach:
On a point of land, I found the star thrower…
I spoke once briefly.
“I understand,” I said. “Call me another thrower.”
Only then I allowed myself to think, he is not alone any longer. After us, there will be others…
And that, to me, is what making a difference is all about.
It is rewarding to do good. It is inspiring to know we are not alone. But, what empowers me to keep making a difference is the knowledge that — “After us, there will be others!”
Thank you Susan! I’m honored to be considered a fellow Star Thrower who is building for those who will follow!