While walking along the Marine Park beach in Fairhaven one evening, I was reminded of the inspirational story about the old man, the young boy, the starfish and the sea. Here is my [unauthorized] adapted version for anyone who is not already familiar with the inspirational tale.
An old man was walking along an expansive beach one summer evening. In the distance, he saw a small figure running up to the water’s edge, throwing something into the sea and running back onto the beach. After watching the figure repeat this course for some period of time, the old man became curious about what was happening.
Eventually, he approached and found that it was, in fact, a young boy. The boy was bending down, picking up a starfish from the wet surf, running to the water’s edge and throwing it as far as he could back into the sea. When the boy returned for his next starfish, the old man stopped him and asked,”Young man, may I ask what you are doing exactly?”
The young boy replied, “I’m saving the starfish, mister.”
The old man looked around, and, noticing how many starfish were washed up this particular evening on the beach, said “But, young man, there are hundreds of starfish on the beach here, and thousands more along the coast. And this is just one beach among hundreds of beaches in this one small area…
…Surely you don’t think that you’re really going to make a difference by throwing one starfish at a time back into the sea!”
With that, the young boy bent down, picked up another starfish, ran down to the water’s edge and threw it, with all the strength that his little frame could manage, as deep into the sea as he could. When he returned, he looked up at the old man and, with a grin, said “It made a difference for that one.”
There is something timeless about this motivational story. It inspires us because of the universal, but often forgotten, truth it holds.
Every day we live, every thing we do, every thought we have makes a difference — even those days and things and thoughts that we (or others) might think are so incredibly insignificant at the time matter.
When you get frustrated by the enormity of something that must be done — when you feel that you won’t be able to make a difference all on your own — when you think that your individual effort and small contribution to the world is insignificant in the grand scheme of things; remember the boy and the starfish.
Great civilizations, great companies, great solutions, great adventures and great relationships don’t happen overnight. They are built slowly over a history of small events that unfold one after the other on a long journey of effort and exploration – one small moment at a time — one small effort at a time.
Tomorrow is just another day.
I am incredibly optimistic about it!
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