The Starthrower by Loren Eisley
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing Starfish into the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked; why are you throwing Starfish into the ocean?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one.”
His response surprised the man, he was upset, he didn’t know how to reply, so instead he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.
All day long as he wrote, the image of that young man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed the essential nature of the young man’s actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by, but was choosing to be an actor in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.
That night he went to bed, troubled. When morning came, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing Starfish into the ocean.
You see, what the young man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and every one of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like the young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.
And that is your challenge, and that is my challenge. We must find our Starfish, and if we throw our stars wisely and well, I have no question that the 21st century is going to be a wonderful place.
Vision without action is merely a dream
Action without vision just passes time
Vision with action can change the world