The Star Thrower

Making a Difference

I still remember the first time I read a version of the Star Thrower.  It connected with me in a profound way and I knew immediately that it would continue to inspire me as a teacher.  Since then I’ve focused on all the little things I can do to make a genuine difference for every student, even if it might seem small or insignificant.  I know that we can often touch the lives of others in ways we’ll not even realize at the time.

Since 1978, when author Loren Eiseley published his 16-page essay called The Star Thrower, it’s been rewritten and retold many times as an inspirational parable.  But regardless of the variations between versions, the lesson is always the same – every small effort we make has the potential to make a significant and positive difference.

Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action, without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.


Here’s one version of the Star Thrower as I remember it from the first time I read it almost 40 years ago.  I hope it touches your heart and inspires you to also make a difference.

The Star Thrower

One morning, an old man was walking along the beach.  He looked ahead and saw a small figure moving like a dancer.  He smiled to himself at the thought of someone joyously dancing to welcome the day.

As he got closer, the old man noticed that the figure was a young boy.  Instead of dancing, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

“What are you doing?” the old man asked.

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.  The sun is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back into the water, they’ll die.”

The old man was a bit surprised and said kindly to the boy, “But there are thousands of starfish all along the beach.  Every time you throw one back, many more are washed up onto the sand.  How can you possibly hope to make a difference?”

The young boy looked at the old man.  Then he looked at the starfish in his hand.  As he tossed it gently into the waves he turned to the old man and said, “I made a difference with that one!”

Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)

Short Video

The Star Thrower – A short film inspired by Loren Eiseley

Sometimes in the rush of our modern society we forget that even the smallest things in life make a difference to someone, or something. 

I hope you’ll enjoy this short video created by   Vezari Studios.