Starfish

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As a child life intern I sometimes feel badly or want to rush with a patient when I know that there are other children I have yet to see. This is a little story I read in the book “healing images for children – teaching relaxation and guided imagery to children facing cancer and other serious illnesses” by Nancy Klein, that really helps me remember it’s all about “quality not quantity”.


A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
– adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

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