As I sit in the lobby, trying to decide whether I should ask for a ride, or just start walking, I think of a story I have always known. I don’t know where I heard it. I don’t know when I heard it. All I know is that thousands upon thousands of them. The beach was covered in these starfish, like now, for instance. The story is about a small child who is walking along a beach, picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. It’s been engrained in my mind for as long as I can remember, and it pops out, at the seemingly most random of times. He girl could never save them all. As she walked along, a man watched her, wondering what she was doing. He could see her bending down, standing up, and waving her arms around. From his distant viewpoint it looked as if she was doing some sort of dance. When he gradually drew nearer, he noticed she was picking something up and throwing it into the water each time she bent down. Closer, he realized it was the starfish. Perplexed by her seemingly futile efforts, he approached the girl and started speaking. Why do you do that?”
“I am saving the starfish,” she replied.
“But there are thousands of them. Look at the beach, its covered. The few you manage to save won’t make a different.
The girl bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the water. She then looked up at the man with bright wide eyes, and a face full of honest innocence. “It made a difference to that one.”
The man was taken aback by her insight. He had never thought of that. It is that point that I think of now. The difference that small acts of kindness can make to people in everyday life. Some days everything foes wrong for me right from the moment I wake up. I feel like I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, except that I’m sleeping in a tree house and the wrong side means I hit every branch on the way down and land in a muddy bog full of leeches. But regardless of how terrible my day starts out, every smile, every small gesture that lets me know someone cares makes my day just that little bit better. Whether it is a smile in the hallway, someone listening to my rant, or a friend stopping by just to give me a hug and a sip of his milkshake, with enough demonstrations of love, anyone can go to bed smiling. It doesn’t take friendship or money to show someone you care. A perfect stranger can give a smile and make that difference that could mean so much. It took only a small child to open a man’s eyes with the simple words “It made a difference to that one.” Someone that man never expected could teach him anything, ended up being the one that taught him to carry on the circle of love. A pretty important difference to him and all the people he helped. I decided to walk. I walk and enjoy the small things, the birds chirping, and the breeze on my hair, the sun shining. I make two promises to myself. One, that I will do what I can to make anyone’s day better, regardless of whether or not I’ve ever even seen them before. The other is to let people make the difference to my day, not to say, “SO what, she asked how I was, big deal,’ but to allow it to warm my heart, lighten my load, and remember that I am not worthless, I am not invisible, I matter, even if it to only one person.