Thank you, Mr. Star Thrower
Most of you have come across various adaptations of “The Starfish Story.” It is often used by motivational speakers who, after recounting the story, encourage their audience with the moral of the story: “Each person can make a difference.” It is a meaningful story with an impactful message.
The original story is called “The Star Thrower,” a 16-page essay by Loren Eiseley, published in1969. If you look on Wikipedia, you can read an excerpt from this story, and from this small paragraph, you will discover why the anthology is 16 pages long. I have not yet had the luxury of reading the entire Eiseley essay, but from the excerpt, even more, thoughtful conclusions can be considered and resolutions of self-improvement made.
There are two considerations that come to mind when I think about this story. One is the patience, dedication, mercy, and love of the “Star Thrower.” Secondly, I keep thinking of each of those starfish … the ones that were not reached that given day by the old man, and then the ones that were rescued through his almost effortless toss in the air. It’s that concept of neglect and attentiveness, of course, and how this truly matters.
I’m thinking to myself as most of you would: “How am I doing as a Star Thrower” in my daily life? But just as importantly, I also ask myself: “How is my attitude of gratitude as a ‘lucky starfish’ who, daily, is revived by others and very mercifully, thrown back to life?”
Many times as a mom it seems like we are on that beach, baking in the hot sun, gasping for the air we need to bring us back to life. Each day is necessarily unpredictable and often uncontrollable. Like that starfish, we find ourselves tossed ashore, stuck. There are waves of “I CAN do this” that appear momentarily, then vanish just as fast as they came. And again, we find ourselves on the verge of breathlessness. And then someone comes along our path, someone … our spouse, a friend, a neighbor, the checkout lady at Walmart, our boss, one of our children, etc… They are at the right place at the right time. They unselfishly, generously and without expectation of anything in return, provide us with a moment of consolation, comfort, and / or the energy needed to fulfill seemingly simple but often arduous and mundane daily demands. They literally scoop us up and dig us out of that hole we are succumbing to and being suffocated by. And they use whatever tools are necessary: a gift, kind words, a hug, a prayer. And suddenly we feel ourselves being launched and we are soaring into the air. We land in that life-giving water, which for us is the confidence that “I can do this mom thing today, again, one more time …and do it well.”
The Starfish Story is a good reminder to me of all the “Star Throwers” in my life for which I am honestly, eternally grateful. For me, it is a story of gratitude. I’m thankful for all those star throwers in the past and for all those to come … for their generous gesture of compassion, for that meal that saved me (many, many times) from serving Ramen Noodles for dinner, for consoling and encouraging words, and for prayers.
My only resolution from this simple reflection is to keep trying to be a Starfish Thrower myself.