The Starfish Story - Revisited


The Starfish Story – Revisited

Fellow Tribe of Uppers, I am sure most of you have heard the starfish story. It is credited to Loren Eiseley and was first published in 1969. The story is about a man walking the beach one morning. A beach covered with starfish, shells, and other ocean debris. A boy observes the man pick up a starfish, look at it and throw it back into the ocean. He repeats this over and over. Finally, the boy approaches the man and says,

“There are so many starfish. You can’t possibly save them all. What difference does it make?”

The man picks up a starfish by the boy’s feet, looks at it, and throws it into the ocean. “It made a difference to that one.”

It’s an old story I’m sure most of you have heard. It’s a nice little ‘aw’ story. From the first time I read that story, my first thought was, what if I was one of those starfish he threw back? What would I do with a second chance? A second chance you say? What are those? In this cancel culture world we seem to live in, can anyone truly have a second chance? My friends, this article is not only a second chance, but a fourth. Somewhere on my laptop, exist three other failed attempts at an article for this week. How do multiple article attempts tie back to the starfish story? That’s easy.

Let’s break down the starfish story to its most fundamental level. It’s about making a difference. Doing small things can equate to big things. I could talk about how starfish are a natural food source for crabs, rays, and sharks, but that would take away from the point I’m trying to make here.

Doing something small for someone else is the moral of this story. The spin I’d like to put on it and ask you all is this. Have you ever been a starfish? Has someone ever thrown you back in the ocean? If so, what have you done with your second chance? Have you truly made the most of it? Have you ever paid it forward and found your own starfish to throw back? My friends, we are fortunate. My guess is all who read this article are in a far better place than those in Eastern Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, multiple nations in Africa, and other places that are (sadly) too many to mention. As rough as things are getting here, we have still been thrown back into the ocean. Our chances are many. The opportunities to help other starfish are limitless. What can we do to make our little corner of the ocean a happy, up, and positive place for all to swim, crawl or float around here? I know I sound like a broken record, but I really do feel it is that important to remind everyone as often as I can to be nice. Awareness of others. Kindness and love are what will save the world. Let me say it again dear friends.

Be nice. At some point we have opportunities to find some starfish on the beach and throw them back. At other times, we are the starfish. If you ever question if nice is the answer, think back to a time when someone threw you back in the ocean. Think hard. I bet you remember the person’s face. I bet you remember the situation and the before and after of how you were feeling. Our responsibility of being a thrown back starfish is to find other starfish to throw back. We can change the world one starfish at a time. Don’t believe me? Throw a few figurative starfish back by throwing kindness and decency out there in the world and tell me the sun doesn’t shine a little brighter and your mood lifts just a little. Be an example to the young starfish in your life. Help them learn about being kind, helpful starfish. A long time ago, someone picked me up and threw me back in the ocean and said, “made a difference to that one.” They sure did. Thank you.

Steve Gwisdalla is a Dexter resident and the Owner, Starfish Pitching Coach, and Head Beachcomber at Better Place Consulting. If you find yourself in need of some starfish care, reach out at

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