You are welcome to go off and review the original story about the starfish on the beach and how one person (or many) can change the world. Here is a link to Wikipedia’s work on the topic.
So, I was wondering about the cynic who questions the girl’s motives, and I decided to write his story:
Stellar Starfish Stories (this is a speech I’ve written, which I will deliver later this month)
Picture if you will, the shadow of a man (in a Rod Serling voice). What light creates this shadow? The very sun that would brighten any normal man’s day. But it was not so for Dave.
Dave saw himself as a victim, not so much of things that had happened, or as an innocent victim of circumstance, but as a hapless human who had dug his own hole. With nothing more than a shovel to work with, he reasoned, right or wrong, that he could only go deeper.
His friends had recently branded him with a new nickname, “Dark Dave.” They likened him to a character on Saturday Night Live, named, “Debbie Downer.” No matter how pleasant the situation Dave, like Debbie, could find a way to dampen the spirit.
The sun creating the shadow for Dave was warming his back, but he was focused on his own shadow on the floor of his hotel room. With one look out the window, he was to observe that indeed it was a bright and sunny day on the East coast of Florida. “Daytona Dave”, he said out loud. “This is not a dark day”, he concluded.
Without thinking another moment about his appearance, with his hair mussed – you know how it is when you first get out of bed, and his face unshaven, he threw on his favorite pair of cut off Levi’s. You know the kind that has just the right amount of fray around the bottom of the pant legs? Faded to perfection, he had packed this pair of shorts for just this purpose – to take him back to a bit of his youth, before all of his hole digging endeavors, when he was still genuinely joyful.
Armed with nothing more than a visor and a pair of Ray-Bans, Dave flung open his hotel door, breezed down through the lobby, across the deck and down the stairs, right onto the white sand beach that beckoned him like a lighthouse beacon. This was his purpose, to find his place in the sun, if only for this day.
Nearing the shoreline, he noted that the sun was brilliantly reflected and refracted in the waves. The smell of the almost slimy saline breeze smacked him in the face and made him catch his breath. He took it all in and managed a genuine smile, as he felt his heart racing. As uncontrollable as a sneeze, a belly laugh escaped him. This broadened his smile, even as he shook his head in disbelief!
Surveying his situation, he soaked in the noise of the waves washing over his toes, cooling and tickling his bare feet accompanied by the the rhythmic racket made by soaring seagulls. Children laughing, parents calling out, and the battle of boom-boxes filled his head with a joyful noise. With his next breath, he took in a bit of the sea spray and realized he had come to the beach without water to drink. His stomach turned a half-flip as he considered his situation. “Water, water, everywhere and nary a drop to drink”, he found himself reciting the hackneyed phrase. He followed quickly with, “Am I not my own albatross?”
Dave was way too analytical. Analysis paralysis would nearly prevent him from taking his first sandy steps. Facing the shore he had to make a monumental decision on which direction to turn. He began to reason it out for himself.
“With the sun at my back, as I begin, it will be higher in the sky as I return”, he was thinking out loud, purely for the fun of it. “With the sun higher in the sky as I return, I’ll enjoy more benefit from my visor.”
He had no sooner finished that sentence when a little girl peered up into his eyes and point blankly asked, “Hey mister, are you OK?” Dave nearly burst into tears, but quickly caught himself.
“Sweetheart, I’m so much better now, for having met you,” he stammered. Then he turned to his left and took a step.
To his surprise, he was not walking quite right. He had to carefully assess each step, to avoid stepping on the starfish that littered the beach that day. Dave was starting the get the idea that this would be no ordinary walk on the beach. He continued with great purpose now, determined to get this done in spite of the impediment. As he walked, he began to notice certain patterns in the placement of the starfish. He figured this was just part of his nature, to find some symmetry in this silly situation. Dave was still smiling as he considered his plight. That he could not look up at the blue sky, take in the scenery, or even pay much attention to where he was going, if he was to avoid stepping on one of these crusty creatures. Every now and then, he would stop and look more closely at a specimen, examining it like he was some kind of zoologist, or ichthyologist. Dave loved his scientific words! He thought this was funny, that he could not see the sky, but looking down he was seeing stars….
Still, he was making progress. Every once in a while he would simply slow down and look up, to see what was in the distance. He noticed in the not too distant future that he was to come upon a young girl. She looked like she might be a teen-ager. Filled with that zest for life that these days annoyed him, she was quite animated in her activity. As he got closer, Dave noticed she was flitting about, snatching up starfish from the beach and gently pitching them into the ocean.
From here, we relate the conversation about how one person can make a difference, even if it is only to one starfish at a time.
We conclude our story with Dave happily pitching in on the clean up work, smiling as he makes twice the difference one person can make.
In the end, another guy comes to ask the same questions, but Dave lets the girl provide the explanation, as he is immersed in his own joyous experience.