10 Comments on Starfish

When the tide goes out, thousands of starfish, having crept close to shore in search of food, are stranded on the beach. Every day at low tide, a man walks along the sand, picking up the starfish one by one and returning them to the water.

One day, a stranger happens along and observes this ritual. Puzzled, the stranger questions the man. “Why are you doing this?” asks the stranger. “You can’t possibly make a difference.”

The man returns another starfish to the water, smiles at the stranger, and responds. “I made a difference to that one.”

There was a time I drew strength from that story.

And that is the intent, of course.

This parable, with slight variations, is used to inspire. Be the one who makes a difference, it says. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your efforts are futile, or that you cannot save them all.

It starts with one.

But that one is work. Back-breaking and heart-rending work. Work done with tenderness and careful handling, with time and with love, yes. But it is work all the same. Day after day after day, it is work.

And sometimes that work is for naught.

She brought the same starfish back to water over and over and over again. She learned its patterns, anticipated its movements. She bent and carried and returned, day after day, again and again.

And then one morning, despite all her efforts to help it thrive, she noticed as she walked the beach that her starfish – her starfish, the one she had studied and loved and led back to safety again and again – had stranded itself further from the sea than ever before.

Staring down, heart heavy with grief, she finally realized that its habits were too ingrained for her to be able to change.

The tide goes out, the clouds roll in. A storm is on the horizon, but it isn’t raining yet.

Except in my eyes.

© Mrs Fever – Temperature’s Rising

10 thoughts on “Starfish

  1. Lingering Need

    You can’t impose love any more than Bush could impose democracy.
    Neither will work that way.

    Being in nature these entities and organisms need to grow outward developing their own strong roots even if that begins with what the other offers –or could offer once nourished and made strong by them. Like the sapling stretching it’s roots toward the stream then growing to the tall oak and over the decades becoming the main feature of an island that same stream will caress constantly through the centuries.

    Here’s to all the saplings lucky enough to have a flowing stream near them.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      It is not a matter of imposing love. It is a matter of seeing things as they are, and – as a result – facing a difficult choice.

      Do I lead him, once again, back to safety?

      Or do I let nature take its course?

      It’s a burdensome decision, but it’s one I will make. Because I’m the only one who can.

  2. Barry K Rosen

    Ladybugs that try to overwinter in my house are like that last starfish. I finally gave up on rescuing them. Tried a roosting box that was supposed to attract them. Nope. But I still admire the guy who rescues starfish (and gets hate mail from clams).
    Barry K Rosen recently posted…Warned by a ShadowMy Profile

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Heh. 🙂 Clams. 😛

      I’m always sad when I see yellowed ladybugs belly-up in the windowsill. Part of me wants to yell, “What were you thinking?!”

      But they weren’t thinking, which is the whole problem.

      Such is the nature of the beast.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I think there are snaggle-toothed monsters that inhabit the ether, whose sole existence depends on gobbling up good comments. 😉 (They are the tastiest of treats, especially when they contain words you can really chew on.)

  3. Bill Rice

    Is it solace or pessimism that when I think of people 200 years ago I realize that they are all dead.

    I have had the worst November/December I can remember, but it now has a name. Asthma. The only cool thing about it is that there are four consonants in a row.

    Not trying to be a downer, just trying to be a rescued starfish.


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