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Will you be my starfish?

Updated on December 16, 2011

"What you are willing to tolerate, you cannot change." - Mike Murdoch


"Somebody needs you. Whether you realize it or want to believe it or not, your mission in life will be connected with somebody else. There is some person or persons you are to effect. Often, it seems impossible that you could individually ever make a significant contribution or have a meaningful life purpose but remember, your actions will send into motion a ripple effect that may well transcend more than you could ever imagine." - from Chuck Goetschel's life changing book "Simon Says"

Why Am I Here?

We could spend (or waste) a lifetime trying to figure out the reason for our existence. But the fact will remain, albeit unexplained, that we are in fact, here. So the question then, becomes, "what am I supposed to do while I'm here?"

"What is my purpose?"

Truth be told, I can't tell you what your purpose is, I can only tell you that you have one. No matter how small or how big, everyone has a purpose. In fact, when it comes to your purpose, there really is no small or big, there just is.

Your purpose may not be to change the world or make any kind of huge impact. At least not directly. Maybe you're the person who influences the person who does change the world. Get it? And everything you've been through in your life up until now has prepared you for today and who you must become to fulfill your purpose. So don't curse God for the struggles you've endured, for there are people who you can help ONLY because you've been through what they're going through now.

 All we can do is strive to be better every day, to make a small difference everyday. We can smile at people. We can encourage. We can say thank you. We can serve better. We can care more. We can grow ourselves. We can lead by example.

We have so many opportunities to make small differences every day, and that require very little effort on our part. You never know the impact you might have because you chose to listen better, to pay attention, to care.

Here is a short story that exemplifies what I am talking about. This story is also featured in the book I mentioned above.

The Star Thrower

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 must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

"It made a difference for that one."

So what now?

I hope that someone out there reads this and is somehow touched, influenced, or inspired to do their part in making a difference in someone else's life. I hope that someone else, decides to go and get that book, and in doing so discovers their own purpose. I hope that I may have made my own small difference in your life today by sharing this with you. Perhaps today you can be my starfish.

"...Isn't that what the truly great leaders do? Don't they touch us this way, making us say to ourselves: 'I want to be in this relationship with you because being in this relationship brings out the best in me and makes me want to be and do all that I am capable of. You see greatness in me that I don't even realize. And you care for me even when I am not at my best.' Isn't this also what love is all about?" - A Leader's Legacy by Kouzes & Posner


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      5 years ago



    • spryte profile image

      spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

      Paradigm: How beautiful and inspiring! I loved this piece and the example that you used.

      I think it's important to remember that sometimes we are the starfish thrower and sometimes we are the starfish. When you stop to think about the fact that your purpose might simply be to be the purpose of another gets rather mind-boggling doesn't it? Unless of course, we are here to serve multiple purposes..


      Of course, I couldn't help but remember Steve Martin's "special purpose," in the movie "The Jerk," but I'm sorta sick and twisted that way. LOL!

      Big thumb's up!

    • ParadigmShift... profile image

      ParadigmShift... 8 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Wow! That was like a compliment within a compliment! Thank you for that Laughing Mom. I am truly flattered...

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      This one is right up there with your hub (my favorite of all time) about validation. You are a big influence, Paradigm. And with this hub, you're part of that domino effect. Thanks!

    • ParadigmShift... profile image

      ParadigmShift... 8 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Thank you for the comment(s)! I really do wish people could understand the compounding effect of making just a little difference in just ONE person's life... You don't have to save a country or even a small group of people (Although many have), but just one. Just one.

    • Zollstock profile image

      Zollstock 8 years ago from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW

      Thanks for bringing that point home so effectively and beautifully! For those of us who consciously want to make a difference, it helps every once in a while to consider that ripple effect or to focus on helping just one starfish at a time. The potential for human purpose, no matter whether on a tiny or a large scale, really is amazing. Awesome hub – you re-energized me.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 8 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      I second RedElf, being a starfish tosser from way back, I can say that yes, your choices can make a difference. Great hub : ) keep em coming!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      From one starfish tosser to another, thank you. Yes, each one of us can and does make a difference in the simple choices we make every day. Each small singular action can make a difference, even if only to that one starfish, and each action compounds the next. Beautiful story and a thought-provoking hub.

    • ParadigmShift... profile image

      ParadigmShift... 8 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Elena - Regardless of what may or may not be true, I have no doubt that you have touched and effected lives. Especially here on hubpages. You never know who might read something you wrote and be moved by it.

      Feline - No problem! Anytime.

      I wonder, since for some people the absolute worse way of dying is by drowning, for fish (and other sea creatures) it must be the other way around. But what do you call that? Is there a name for it? Death by oxygen???

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      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      I've never thought of myself as a starfish, but it's kind of you to make the effort to toss me back into the sea Paradigm Shift. :)

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

      Hey Paradigm, I am touched by the starfish story, and yes, it makes me think there can be a purpose to one's actions, but I'm completely unconvinced there is a purpose to one's life, at large.  Then again, sunny side up, what is life if not a succession of actions?

      See? I'm on the existentialist side, but I am a positive existentialist :-)

    • ParadigmShift... profile image

      ParadigmShift... 8 years ago from San Jose, CA

      LOL! I have no idea about the chocolate reference... But I will gladly throw some starfish with you!

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      neat observation; I thought I might just be here for the chocolate, but starfish tossing sounds like a lot of fun. . . .