The Starfish Story

I blogged about this over at Love Drop the other day, but It really applies to ALL KINDS of areas in our lives – not just charitable giving… Take a read, and then find a way that YOU can make a difference in someone else’s life today :)

The Starfish Story, by Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…

“I made a difference for that one.”

Take 15 minutes today and help someone out :) Whether it’s helping them get started on that budget they’ve always wanted NEEDED to do, making them dinner so they can relax for an evening, or simply just listening and offering guidance. It doesn’t have to be financially related (even though I skew it that way for this blog), but just letting someone know you’re there for them, and you CARE can make a world of a difference.  If you don’t know what they need, ask. Often times the mere question brightens up their day :)

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  1. Ginger March 25, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    Beautiful and very true. The boy has perspective

  2. Tea March 25, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Beware when you are asked to help someone with a budget. It can make people mad at you if they don’t like facing the reality of their situation. I was recently asked by an acquaintance to help her friend figure out a budget, as she is going to retire and will be living on less. I am a pretty frugal person and could probably find away to live on any budget, might not be pleasant but I would survive. The woman I was trying to help had her statement from social security saying she could expect $1200 a month in income. She has no pension, she has $6000 in a 401k—yes only $6000. That’s it, no savings. Her mortgage is $1500 a month, and she has 15 more years on it before it is paid off. She has a $300 a month car payment.
    When I asked her what she was going to do about her house, she gave me this blank look, and asked what I meant. When I pointed out she couldn’t afford to keep it, she responded, “But they can’t expect me to move from my home.” As I try to explain yes they could, if she couldn’t make the payments. She got more and more adamant that is no way she is moving out of her house. When I suggested she could get roommates, she found that suggestion unacceptable as well.
    I finally suggested we start with her expenses and see how much she would have left for housing, and then make a decision based on that. But it soon became clear she was just as resistant to reducing any of her expenses to fit her new income. She left angry and has been telling everyone who will listen about what an awful woman I am, expecting her to live like someone in the slums.

  3. Steph March 25, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    I’ve always loved that story. I can’t tell you how many people have made a real difference in my life but I never had the opportunity to tell. The best way to thank them? Pay it forward.

  4. Sense March 25, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    This post just did that for me, J$. ;) Sometimes it’s enough just to hear that there are people out there that truly care about other people. Thanks!

  5. Trinnie March 25, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    I mentioned this on your FB, J, but I’ll post it here, too. At work, on my lanyard where I clip my work badge, I have a starfish pin that was given to us by our employer. It reminds me everyday that I have the potential of changing at least 1 person’s life, whether it’s giving them insurance advice, taking a payment, or just answering the phone.

  6. Jon | Free Money Wisdom March 25, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    What a wonderful way to end the week, thanks for the touching post J$. This world would look different if more people thought like that :)

  7. Rafiki March 25, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Wow. That story left me speechless.

  8. Investing Newbie March 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    What a lovely story. I think you just inspired me to go help someone!

  9. Jason L March 25, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Great timing, especially with the recent tragedy in Japan. I encourage everyone to donate, if you haven’t already.

  10. Momma Star March 26, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Thank you J$ for reminding me and everyone that with just helping one person we are closer to helping the world make a difference. KEEP THE MESSAGE ALIVE! :)

  11. Hunter March 26, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Amazing story. Thank you for inspiring me.

  12. Edward 22 March 27, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I just shared this story with my 5 year old…
    He looked at me funny and said, What are starfish?

    Not sure if he got the point but we googled starfish and now he has an idea of that.

    Just thought i’d share…
    Good post

  13. Emily March 27, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    I’ve heard this story several times, and it always makes me realize that no matter how small we think we are in this world, a kind word or act will always make a world of difference.

  14. J. Money March 29, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    @Ginger – Right?
    @Tea – Wow. That is really unfortunate, I’m sorry to hear :( You’re totally right though – we gotta be careful in the ways we approach this money stuff w/ others. People are SO different once the topic changes to that. Thanks for reminding us to tread lightly :)
    @Steph – YES! Paying it forward is an *excellent* way to thank them, I love it.
    @Sense – Hooray! Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did :)
    @Trinnie – COOL! That is a great reminder Trinnie, you never stop impressing me ;)
    @Jon | Free Money Wisdom – Of course! You all are my family :) We’re all in this together my man.
    @Rafiki – :)
    @Investing Newbie – Awesome! And you know what? It can literally take 30 seconds to help someone too. It’s not that hard ;)
    @Jason L – Great reminder Jason, even just a few dollars helps out.
    @Momma Star – Woohoo!!!
    @Hunter – Thanks for reading my blog :)
    @Edward 22 – Hahhahahaa…. your kid is awesome. Watch him grow up to be like the #1 specialist in starfish now ;)
    @Emily – Yup! Would be cool to meet the author of it one day, wouldn’t it? If you’re reading this Loren Eisley, let me buy you a coffee!

  15. Steven Goodwin September 27, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    Trying to be that shining light in someone else’s life can be very gratifying not only to help them out, but to make us feel more fulfilled as well! I love helping people out, answering questions, and pointing people in a direction that will lead them further on their journey in a positive way!

    1. J. Money September 28, 2016 at 10:33 AM

      Yes! Win-Win-WIn all around!

  16. theFIREstarter September 28, 2016 at 12:29 PM

    Love this little story!
    I’ve just written a short blog (not a story tho) about something kind of similar so will add a link at the bottom of the post. :)