What did you want to be when you grew up?

This is the age old question isn’t it? Do we ever really grow up? Do we just gain some responsibility but there is always a child inside us? I think as we age, we don’t lose the fun side of us, we gain a whole new perspective with the ability to still be able to have fun. The problem is some of us become jaded by life. I have struggled with the scenario of not trusting anyone anymore. The problem is, I have this unbreakable trust in God that I know somehow has to be transferred to his creation. I refuse to lose hope in humanity. I have realized just how sneaky and transparent some people can be. It is like a kid in a cookie jar with cookies on their face. I always wanted to be able to help people. I have realized that helping people means just that. It isn’t a cookie cutter idea of what helping people is. Helping people means doing what needs to be done for an individual person or group. My idea of helping others can be as small as holding a door for someone. It doesn’t have to be Earth shattering to be impactful. Many people think that if you don’t get recognition or if it doesn’t impact humanity as in social media worthy to report, it isn’t worth doing. I still recall the story that has stuck with me forever. Here it is…

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
We all have the opportunity to help create positive change, but if you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself thinking, “I’m already really busy, and how much of a difference can I really make?”  I think this is especially true when we’re talking about addressing massive social problems like tackling world hunger or finding a cure for cancer, but it pops up all of the time in our everyday lives, as well. So when I catch myself thinking that way, it helps to remember this story.  You might not be able to change the entire world, but at least you can change a small part of it, for someone.

They say that one of the most common reasons we procrastinate is because we see the challenge before us as overwhelming, and that a good way to counter that is to break the big challenge down into smaller pieces and then take those one at a time–like one starfish at a time.  And to that one starfish, it can make a world of difference.


“A single, ordinary person still can make a difference – and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day.”
Chris Bohjalian, Vermont-based author and speaker