Made a Difference to That One

A young man was walking down a beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see old man in the distance. As he walked nearer, he noticed that the old man kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things out into the ocean. As the young man approached even closer, he noticed that the old man was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water.

The young man was puzzled. He approached the old man and said, “Good evening, sir. I was wondering what you are doing.”

“I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it’s low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don’t throw them back into the sea, they’ll die up here from lack of oxygen.”

“I understand,” the young man replied, “but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don’t you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?”

The old man smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, “Made a difference to that one!”

Whatever effort we make serve and assist, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can be meaningful, well-appreciated and worth providing.