The Star Thrower

Posted by: Jeanette |

December 1, 2012 |

Comments (12)

Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by situations in our lives that we overlook the simple, step by step actions we can take to make things better. This story beautifully demonstrates what an impact we can have when we focus on one thing at a time. You’ll especially enjoy this story if you are, or have ever been, a caretaker for others (persons or animals) and wondered if what you do/have done for them matters.

And now for the story:

A friend of ours was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he grew closer, he noticed that the local native 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 our friend approached even closer, he noticed that the 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.

Our friend was puzzled. He approached the man and said “Good evening, Friend. 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,” our friend 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 it is probably happening on hundreds of other beaches all up and down the coast. Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?”

The local native 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!”


This version of the starfish story is from Jack Canfield’s book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” There have been many renditions of it told through the years, but the story was originally told by Loren Eiseley in “The Star Thrower.” (In the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, this story is called, “One at a Time.”)

In which way do you enjoy helping others? Do you recognize the value of your supportive gifts, even when you may not receive direct feedback from others? Do you have any successes or challenges to share regarding feeling overwhelmed?

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12 Responses to “The Star Thrower”

  1. Angie Bartlett says:

    Thanks Jeanette for sharing the star thrower. It shows us how little we need to do to make a difference in someones life, even when we don t see the difference. You make a difference, by your sweet attitude, you encouragement, and uplifting comments. You ll never know how many lives you have affected, but those that have been helped will never forget your impact. Hope you and Val have a truly wonderous and adventuress holiday with family and come back renewed and refreshed. Love Angie and Bill

    • Jeanette says:

      Hi Angie,
      Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. What a nice surprise. Val and I have been enjoying our holiday and continue to do so. Hope the same for you and Bill. It seems so appropriate that this starfish story would appeal to you since you’ve been an exceptional caretaker to so many people for so many years! You have definitely had a positive effect on those of us lucky enough to know you! Thanks for all your kindness Angie. Looking forward to the new year with you and the other class members! ❤

  2. Reyna says:

    Thank you, Jeanette. Always love your communiques – so thought provoking and enjoyable.

    • Jeanette says:

      It’s a treat to get a note from you Reyna. I’m so glad that you are enjoying my newsletters. Thanks for the positive feedback.
      See you tomorrow! ♥ Jeanette

  3. Sandra S. says:

    Great message. I’ve gone through some hard times this year with the loss of my husband and I cherish every positive bit of support you offer me Jeaentte–in class, through your newsletter and during our little chats. I don’t know what I would do without you.

    • Jeanette says:

      My heart goes out to you Sandra. You’ve been through one of life’s most difficult experiences this year. I admire your courage to stay involve in what you enjoy to help your healing. And I’m so happy to have you in my class. You’re amazing! ♥

  4. SAMMY says:

    What a beautiful story Jeanette. I will share this with my family over Christmas. Thank you.

  5. Jane Birenbaum says:

    Hi Jeanette,
    thank-you for your welcome words and insights. You are truly a wonderful inspiration to always keep our thoughts in a positive vane. I am recovering from the bursitis, etc. and plan to return to class in January. I can’t believe it’s b een 6-7 months, but my body knows it. I wish you and yours a loving holiday with good friends and family (if available). Maybe a snow trip?
    It is very important that we try to do something nice each day for someone else – even if it is just being a good listener. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Jane

    • Jeanette says:

      Dear Jane,
      How wonderful to hear from you. Yes yes yes it has been a while now, so I’m overjoyed to hear you’ll be back in January. Our class has grown quite a bit, but we’ll ALWAYS make room for you! I know you’ve had lots of pain to deal so I continue to send healing thoughts your way.

      Thanks for your warm holiday wishes. I’ll be flying to Texas to visit my family whom I haven’t seen in two and a half years. We’re way past due for a reunion! I’m looking forward to it. I doubt we’ll get any snow..ha ha ha…but we might get some muddy slush on the ground.

      You are a sweetheart and I know you bless many people who are lucky enough to know you.
      Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!
      ♥ Jeanette

  6. Helen says:

    I’m going through a big change in my life and I’m feeling overwhelmed about it. I am downsizing from the house I’ve lived in for 40+ years into an assisted living home. though I’m looking forward to having less to manage I’m also struggling with letting go. Luckily, I have my children to help me through this. I really enjoyed the star fish story. One starfish at a time. And for me right now…it’s one box at a time.

    • Jeanette says:

      Another one of life’s challenging experiences. In one way, it’ll probably feel so good to let go of stuff from the past…but there are most likely so many memories etc. I love your way of relating to the story…yes one box at a time, one decision at a time. Manageable steps feel so much better. Best wishes as you go through this transition Helen. Take care of yourself through it all. Stay in touch with me!

“The real joy of life is in its play.” ~Walter Rauschenbusch

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