A subtle twist on an old tale.
The young woman grumbled as she walked along the Pacific shoreline, disgusted by thousands of starfish that had washed onto the shore during the previous night’s storm. “They are all going to rot,” she complained as she stepped over another doomed starfish. “God,” she shouted, “this was an exceptionally cruel move for the first day of my vacation.”
A young boy, perhaps 10 years old, emerged from a shoreline cottage and made his way to the water’s edge. She watched as the boy repeatedly picked up a starfish and tossed it into the ocean. Occasionally, he’d raise his arms into the air and shout as though a great victory occurred. “Kids,” she snorted and turned head to the waves.
She tried to ignore him. She really did. What did it matter what the kid was doing? “Leave it alone,” she thought. “Just mind your own business and leave it alone,” she repeated internally as she walked toward the boy.
“Hey,” she nodded upon approach.
“Hey,” the boy smiled as he scooped up a starfish and hurled it into the water. “Wanna’ help?”
“You’re wasting your time,” she stated, overwhelmed by her need to point out the obvious.
He froze momentarily, then turned in her direction. “Why do you think I’m wasting my time?”
“First of all, look at the beach,” she exclaimed. “There are thousands of stranded starfish. There’s no way you can save them. One or two people aren’t going change that. You need to face reality and understand that, no matter how many starfish you throw back into the water, you can’t possibly make a difference. They are all going to die. It’s pointless. Just. Stop.”
The kid looked out past the waves as he considered her words. He thought about his father’s directions. “God’s given you a mind, Carson. Make sure to use it.”
“Give up. None of this will make a difference,” The young woman repeated.
Carson picked up another starfish, noting it’s unique beauty for a brief moment, then tossed it far into the water. “Made a difference to that one,” he offered as he bent to reach for another.