The Star Thrower

One of my favorite short stories is “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977).  The author gets up early one morning and goes walking a beach at the coast.  The gray fingers of dawn barely touch the horizon.  It is dark but he can see that the sand is covered with starfish – live starfish being swept in by the tide.  He keeps walking. 

Off in the distance on the beach, he sees a figure that stoops — and throws.   Stoops — and throws.   The author continues walking.  And as he approaches the figure, he sees that it is a young man.  Who is picking up starfish and slinging them back into the sea.  As he reaches the young man, he stops and watches.  The author looks at the young man and says “look at the beach.  It’s covered with starfish.  What you’re doing doesn’t make any difference.”  The young man looked back as he picked up a starfish “you see this one?  It makes a difference to him” and he threw the starfish into the waves.

To me the message is so powerful it brings tears to my eyes.  What are your gifts?  What do you do well?  What do you like to do?  What lights your fire?  What can you do to make a difference?  We are each blessed with special gifts.  Talents.  Abilities.  We may not be able to throw a starfish into the sea but we may be able to throw a lifeline to some person.  With a kind word.  A generous deed.  It may not mean much to us.  But it may make all the difference in the world to someone else.