The story of the starfishes and the little hummingbird

The starfishes

On a long beach numerous starfishes are laying on the sand.
If they do not reach the sea on time they will die.
A man is carefully picking up a little starfish and brings it back to the sea.

There is another man, on top of the dune, watching this man. He is trying to figure out what the man on the beach is doing. So he decides to walk to the man on the beach. He sees what the man is doing, getting the starfishes back to the see.
When he is in talking distance from the man, he says, in a sceptical tone of voice: why bother, there are so many starfishes. It makes no difference.
The man, who just had carefully picked up a starfish and carried it in the palm of his hand, showed the starfish to the other man and said: “For this one it does make a difference”.

The little hummingbird

Schermafbeelding 2013-01-23 om 17.44.58The rainforest of Brazil is a beautifull forest. It is an important forest too, as it keeps the world in an ecological sound balance, providing a.o. the oxigen the humans and animals so desperately need.

One day there is a big fire in the forest, all the animals instinctively flee. And so does the hummingbird. At least it looks like that.
But if you were to fly over that area you would see the little hummingbird flying from the fire to a little lake. Diving into the lake, taking a drop of water in his beak and flying back to the fire dropping this drop of water upon the fire.
And again and again he flies back and forth with this little drop of water in his beak to drop it on the fire.
A little animal, who from time to time stops to check and look around whether he is still going in the right direction, sees the hummingbird and wonders what it is doing.
At some point both the animals are taking a short rest, and they find themselves on the same spot.
So the little animal looks at the hummingbird saying: I see you flying back and forth. I don’t understand, you could have been out of here a long time ago. What are you doing?
The little hummingbird looking at the animal says simply: “I am doing my part”.

For this one it does make a difference.
I am doing my part.

These have been my leading motifs in my life and work. I think this helps me to lead a life worthwhile, helping others as well as myself

The story came to me in 1995 when I was attending a course in Vancouver in the state Washington, where I met with Jole, a woman from Brazil. Listening to the story it brought tears to my eyes. In my protest against nuclear weapons in the seventies people reacted to that in terms of why bother? My reactions to that was: I improve the world, starting with myself.