I Can Save THIS One

I remember reading a short story with a HUGE message years ago that had a big impact on me and how I view life. It went something like this:

One day a little girl was walking on a beach with her parents. They came upon a place where thousands of starfish had washed ashore and the tide had gone out.

Her mom said sadly, “Those poor creatures are stranded out of the water and are all going to die.”

The little girl thought for a moment, and then picked up a starfish and threw it as far as she could into the water, then bent to pick up another.

Her dad looked at her and said, “Why are you doing that? There are thousands of starfish and you can’t possibly save them all.”

She replied, “I know I can’t save them all, but I can save THIS one..” as she threw it into the sea and picked up another, “…and THIS one…”

I love how the little girl taught her parents an important lesson: Just because we can’t save everyone doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to help those we can.

Over the years I’ve learned that the story is an excellent reminder for a LOT of lessons including:

Big problems can seem very daunting but can be overcome by breaking them down into small pieces and tackling each piece one at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Addicts who focus on what they are doing right NOW often have a better outcome than those who constantly worry about the rest of their lives.

A kind act today is better than a million expressions of sympathy.


I have learned much from that wise and kind little girl.


About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Choices, Growth/Learning, Inspiring, LIfe Lessons, Making the World a Better Place, Observations, Parenting, Stories That Touched Me and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to I Can Save THIS One

  1. This is one of mg very favorite stories ever. I tell it over and over again and I cry each time! Wonderful post Russ!

  2. russtowne says:

    Thank you, MoJo. I know what you mean. It is amazing how powerful this simple story is. I mention it in a wide variety of conversations.


  3. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    I love this old story, thank you so much for sharing it here. I like your version with the little girl saying “I can save THIS one.. and This one”. Yes we are all making a difference, more than we know. You have cheered my day, as always. Thank you again! Hugs, Gina

  4. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I, too, love this story, Russ. It speaks to me of choices and action. A lovely message. – Cathy

  5. mindfuldiary says:

    Such a great story with a huge message. It is funny, how kids can teach us the biggest lessons in life. Will remember this story. Thanx for sharing.

  6. russtowne says:

    Thank you for your kind comment! I agree. Kids are wonderful teachers! One of the lessons I received a LOT as a parent is the value of humility. Whenever I thought I had the job of parenting figured out, our children came up with a whole bunch of new lessons!

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