Starfish thrower

Here is a lovely story written by Loren Eisley, a man of many titles but I think ‘anthropologist and philosopher’ may be a passable summary. 

From time to time we all come across the attitude of “I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference so why bother trying?” Or “The task is so large that I’ll never do it, so I might as well not even bother trying.” Maybe sometimes that attitude is coming from within. 

When we practice Buddhism it’s all about small steps leading to a larger goal – a goal that sometimes seems overwhelmingly huge. But step by step we abandon unskillful qualities and nurture skilful ones. De parvis grandis acervus erit. 

This story is a reminder of how we can each make a difference. So without further ado:

Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was stuck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the person he said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, “It sure made a difference to that one!”

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Author: Bite-Size Dhamma

I'm a Buddhist layperson, trying to live well and skilfully with compassion, generosity, and discernment. I work in the field of housing law and homelessness casework. I have a beautiful kind wife, a very cute dog, and two loveable but surly cats.

12 thoughts on “Starfish thrower”

  1. Mayhap the serried introductions even more tasty than the tale…until I read tale’s end. What a delightful weaving. I shall flung it up on my site(s) perhaps in search of more throwers who enjoy tidal tromping in search of stranded starfish or themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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