|Starfish from a water dive with PBA student Ryan Winston.|
Back in high school, a close friend of mine also had a strong fascination with starfish; she would make doodles of them on paper, buy starfish earrings, and basically made starfish her trademark. At our high school graduation, she spoke to our class about why she admired these marine echinoderms.
She shared a portion of "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley:
An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing, but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean. "Young lady," he asked, "Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" "The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die," she said. "But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference. The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying, "It made a difference for that one." The old man looked at the young woman inquisitively and thought about what she had done. Inspired, he joined her in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.This simple children's story is comforting for me to think about after seeing so much tragedy through news coverage of the shootings in Aurora, Colo. during a showing of the film, "The Dark Knight Rises." When hearing of the shootings, as with all tragedies, it was difficult not to be pessimistic about wrongdoings in the world. During times of crisis and pain, it can be difficult to see how good can survive, similar to how in the "The Star Thrower" it was difficult to see how throwing one starfish back in the water would make a difference.
However, with the story, I am reminded that one person's good morals can outweigh any amount of bad attitudes in the world. The one person throwing the starfish back in to the water is the one that makes a difference.
Finding that orange starfish during a day of diving was a symbol to me of the goodness in the story shared by my high school friend. I know I will make an effort to look out for "starfish" to save this summer.