A Boy and a Few Starfish

kids on a beach

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds. It is something one creates.” ~ Thomas Szasz

There is an old story that is often told. It is about a boy (or an old man, depending on the version you’ve heard) and he is walking along the beach. The beach is strewn with thousands of starfish which have washed ashore. As he walks along he throws as many starfish as he can back into the water and to safety. Someone asks the boy how he possibly hopes to make a difference when there are so many starfish on the beach. As the boy throws a starfish back he says, “It makes a difference to this one”.

It is a good story as it stands but consider this: maybe the fish is saved but maybe it is already dead. Who could tell with a starfish? Even if it is alive maybe it will just wash ashore again with the next tide. Whatever the future of the starfish the effort is not lost. The boy has become something better because he made the effort to save a few starfish.

Sometimes when we go out in the world with the intent to make a difference we will succeed and sometimes we won’t and mostly we will never know if we have or not. Regardless the outcome, the effort is never wasted because of the change in us for having tried. We have become a little better, a little more than we were.

“Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.” ~ Viktor Frankl

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