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Forums / Multicultural experiences / The starfish on the sand!

Topic: The starfish on the sand!

15 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
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    4 February 2018

    Tonight's beautiful summer night reminded me one summertime long ago walking on the beach with my parents at twilight. The air was warm and the wet sand under our feet inviting and refreshing. We walked for miles, sometimes talking, other times silently listening to the waves crushing, the seagulls, the wind. We came to a secluded beach where a few starfish had been washed ashore. Then I remembered my dad telling me a story:

    'Once there was a man walking on the beach and there were hundreds and hundreds of starfish everywhere on the sand. He started picking them up one by one and throwing them back in the water. Another man was walking by and asked him what was he doing. The man exclaimed that he was throwing them back into the water. "But there are so many of them, thousands maybe, do you think it will make any difference if you throw this one back in?", said the man pointing to the one the guy was holding in his hands and was about to throw back into the water.

    "Well, for THIS ONE it will make a difference", the man answered and threw the starfish he was holding back in the water.'

    Sometimes we may doubt the power we have in influencing others. We may feel inadequate to help. Or too small. Perhaps overwhelmed by the weight of caring for someone who goes through a tough time while simultaneously we have to juggle so many different issues and challenges. The world is full of need it seems. Every corner there is someone asking for something. At every light we are stopped there is some type of fundraising for good and worthy causes. Sometimes we may wonder, 'what difference does it make?'. It may feel like a drop in the ocean, but like the starfish in the story I was told that night, we can make a difference for that one person, that one situation, the event that we happen to be part of. The one word, gesture, look etc may be all it takes to make a difference at that moment in someone's life.

    We may not be Counsellors. We may not be able to give advice or solve anything, but we might be the only person at any particular moment that can hug someone in a time of need, offer a glass of water, give a card, some flowers, an empathetic ear. For a person suffering in anguish, anxious or depressed unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we may be the only thing they need at that moment.

    Do you have experiences where this has happened to you? When you found yourself in a situation where you knew you made a difference? Tell us about it!

    3 people found this helpful
  2. Quercus
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte',

    Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this.

    I remember one moment.

    A woman who was obviously unwell. She was very pale and looked on the verge of tears came to my counter.

    I could tell just by looking at her that noone had cared to ask. She looked so shattered. So I asked. Do you need an ambulance? She was beyond words but slowly the story came out. Her shoulder was badly hurt. She had been disregarded by everyone on her way home. She was 3 hours from home and noone to help her with her bag or to drive her car. She told me she was just going to drive because she had no idea what else to do.

    So I made plans for her. It sounds odd but she was so distressed that even the process of realising her care was safe and could stay where it was and she could be escorted to a taxi and helped with her bag and be taken to the hospital was beyond her. She needed help.

    So yes. I know my actions mattered. Because she was hurting and I cared on a day where noone else noticed. And stopped her driving at night on rural roads with a hurt shoulder.

    Go me 😊 I love starfish moments.

    3 people found this helpful
  3. Summer Rose
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Donte

    Love your thinking, Donte.

    About 25 years ago, I had just arrived in Australia and was looking for work. I was travelling on a train to the city to attend a job interview, arranging my thoughts in preparation and totally self-focused, until a teenage school boy collapsed in front of me. The train was crowded and it was hot and the young man had been standing. I assumed he had fainted, until he began to shake uncontrollably.

    I had no first aid training but moved closer to kneel beside him, cradled his head and gently spoke to him. I was sadly, the only person who acted. It was some time before he opened his eyes and could sit up. He was terribly embarrassed and just wanted to bolt. I persuaded him to talk awhile.

    He said he had no known history of fainting or seizures. I suggested we call his mum or dad together because I thought the information I had as a witness to the episode could be important to his future care. I remember feeling so grateful and relieved that he put his trust in me.

    This was in a time before cell phones, so we both got off and walked to the station for help and I spoke with his father. The boy was frightened by what had happened, so I waited with him until his Dad came to collect him.

    I missed out the job but I know it was only because I was needed elsewhere. My son now travels by train to his university. I cannot remember the name of the boy I helped so long ago, but the look in his father's eyes when we first met has stayed with me. It is only now as a parent that I really understand that look. It was a gift that keeps on giving.

    3 people found this helpful
  4. Donte'
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Quercus
    Beautiful. Just beautiful. :)
    1 person found this helpful
  5. Donte'
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    This is lovely!

    Your experience made me smile and felt goosebumps. (As a parent too!) X

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Elizabeth CP
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Donte'
    I'll share the opposite situation. My daughter was out riding her bike when I got a phone call from a stranger who explained that my daughter had crashed & probably needed a medical check up as she had hit her head. I drove to the strangers home to pick up my dtr. I was so grateful this stranger had noticed my dtr crash & went out to pick her up & look after her until I arrived. My dtr was confused due to her injury & couldn't give details. The stranger had looked up the phone book to find our number after finding her name on the inside of her bike helmet. I certainly was grateful for the stranger as I would hate to think what would have happened to her if left alone on the street after her accident given her level of confusion.
    4 people found this helpful
  7. White Rose
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Stories like this give me hope for the future of the world.

    I was walking into the tunnel to the train station to go home after work. In the entrance to the tunnel a man in front of me collapsed to the ground. He started shaking and I realised he was having a seizure. I worked with people who had seizures so it did not worry me. I knelt there (couldn't do it now) and waited for the seizure to stop and in my usual bossy way told someone to get a station guard to assist.

    Meanwhile all the commuters were trying to get past us to catch their trains. Some of them were so horrible, they simply stepped over the man. Eventually the seizures stopped and the man returned to consciousness. He was a bit dazed so I got him to stay lying down for a few minutes and when he looked better I helped him to a seat out of the way of everyone. The railway person had phoned for an ambulance and I stayed until it arrived and told them what had happened etc. The poor bloke was quite upset and kept saying he had never had a seizure before. I felt so sorry for him.

    I presume he was checked out at the hospital. It is amazing how very few people offer help when someone is obviously unwell. But yes, the starfish is a good analogy and I think I made a difference that day. I wonder what would have happened if everyone had walked past him. Scary.

    Mary

    3 people found this helpful
  8. Elizabeth CP
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    11 February 2018 in reply to White Rose

    Sometimes the little things which we do almost without thinking can also make a huge difference. While growing up my parents always bought a special cake & had a celebratory dinner when we achieved anything special. As a young adult my siblings & I all lived independently several hours from our parents. My brother had just finished spending 2 years voluntary work for the church. I arranged to take him to a chinese restaurant (in those days quite exotic) to celebrate. I enjoyed taking him & watching him use chopsticks for the first time so I didn't think I was putting myself out. Years later, on several occasions, my brother told me how much he appreciated that. He'd felt as if most people outside the family was only doing the work because he wasn't good enough to do anything better whereas he'd given up work to do it because he wanted to help the church & believed he was doing the right thing. Knowing I cared & understood the sacrifice he'd made really helped my brother at that difficult time for him. What to me was a simple pleasant action also changed our relationship. As teenagers/children we'd fought a lot but after this meal we were very close & have been there to support each other through some difficult times on each side.

    Sometimes the starfish can be someone close to us & throwing it into the sea very easy for us but life changing for the starfish

    4 people found this helpful
  9. Donte'
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    11 February 2018 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    Random acts of kindness have a ripple effect and make this world a better place and our life experience more positive.

    I remember losing my wallet recently while walking the dogs. When I went home and discovered I had lost it I was worried about my cards, money, license and Medicare cards etc. it’s not so much the little cash we carry in our wallet but rather having to cancel our cards and apply to reissue them, getting a renewed license etc. And of course there’s always the chance of someone stealing our identity and committing unlawful acts or trying to access our bank accounts. Having ‘paywave’ on my debit cards I was also worried that anyone who could have picket it up could go and use my card without having to know my pin. I also live in a notorious area downtown.

    You can imagine my frustration and anger and panic when I went back to the park and searched thoroughly every single bit of grass I had previously walked upon, checked every place I had stopped and every seat I had sat to find nothing.

    After calling the bank and cancelling all my cards, I received a call from a friend who told me that someone had called him and told him that he had found my wallet down the street!

    Unbeknown to me, my friend had written his number on a piece of paper and had placed it in my wallet as he knows very well how hopeless I am in remembering numbers, just in case of emergency, and in the event that anything happened and I lost my phone to be able to contact him! How thoughtful was this? How handy when someone found my wallet and called his number to let them know!

    That day I was thankful for so many reasons:

    my wallet was found by someone caring enough to make the effort to want to return it...

    my friend had made provisions in case of emergency which I wasn’t aware of...

    nothing in my wallet was touched...

    my accounts were intact...

    my identity wasn’t stolen...

    no one came to rob my home...

    etc etc...

    Yes, it restores faith to humanity when random acts of kindness take place. All it takes is a few moments to pause and go out of our way to do something little that could potentially have big effect on someone else’s life. :)

    2 people found this helpful
  10. Donte'
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    11 February 2018 in reply to White Rose

    Beautiful experience White Rose.

    I'm glad you happened to be there and chose to respond to this person's need in the way you did. Clearly this was as rewarding for him as for you!

    Often we can be so busy and preoccupied with whatever is happening in our own little world that we dismiss events and situations that take place all around us. Sometimes we are oversaturated with so much drama that we choose to put our headphones on and wear our dark sunglasses avoiding eye contact. Especially for those who commute daily with public transport through the city. We might also feel scared at times, or not know what is the right thing to do and prefer to just keep walking so we don't do the wrong thing or get into trouble. Let someone else deal with it.

    There are many times I look back and think how would have been if I didn't stop to find out if someone was ok. Other times I ponder what would have happened if I hadn't dismiss the plea for help.

    I remember vividly after the death of my partner, I returned to work and most people wouldn't even mention his death. For months I was so angry and felt no one cares, no one understands. I lost interest in the job and in engaging with others and felt I gave so much for so many years without being valued or appreciated. Progressively I became very angry and resentful. I became bitter and cynical.

    When one day someone finally asked me how I'm coping, I let it all out and expressed exactly how I felt. I was angry, disillusioned, frustrated and was thinking of quitting. After allowing me to express my truth she brought to my attention that even though my feelings were real and legitimate, I also, do exactly the same - I walk down the corridor to the photocopier or to the staff room, and like everyone else haven't got a clue what lives people live, what issues they're faced with, what may trouble them, what battles they have etc and dismiss any pleas for empathy. She made me realize that day that even though we are all there to work and not make friends or psychoanalyze people's lives or provide counselling and support, we can still show that we care and pay attention to the often subtle signs that people display. It only took a few minutes that day to turn me around. It only was a small investment on her part that made a huge difference to me.

    Opportunities to be human and show our empathy for others surround us daily. It's up to us to develop the mindfulness and make ourselves open to them and it doesn't have to be epic!

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Donte'
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    11 February 2018 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    That's so true Elizabeth!

    I'm glad a small gesture has gone a long way and this event became pivotal in your relationship with your brother. As you said, we don't need to look too far to find the starfish! They often are in front of us, next to us, all around us...

  12. Summer Rose
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    11 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Thank you, Donte, for the reminder that the starfish are everywhere.

    We are bombarded every day with stories of what is wrong in the world--war, death, misery, hunger, despair, etc. From a wider lens, of course, one can see that these events are only newsworthy because they are different from the ordinary. The millions of starfish stories from around the world don't make the news. Your thread is great because it is a reminder that the world is more good than bad. It gives us hope.

    2 people found this helpful
  13. PamelaR
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    11 February 2018 in reply to Summer Rose

    Thank you to all those who have shared their wonderful experiences - Donte, White Rose, Summer Rose, Quercus, Elizabeth CP. It does give hope for us. We don't have to listen to all the negative news that gets aired. Interestingly, they usually put 1 good story at the end (generally about something furry, cuddly or the like) to round off their awful stories.

    While some good ones like you've shared at times get aired, they aren't the norm. I'm so pleased for this thread - thank you Donte.

    My story is set in Oxford, England. While backpacking through Europe, my husband and I stopped in a hostel in Oxford and hired some bicycles. The main city streets are cobbled, something totally new to me and on a bike that was different. Just the makings for a fall of the bike. A woman motorist stopped, jumped out and asked if I was okay. I was a little dazed and was just going to get back on the bike and cycle off. No way, she popped me in her car and took me to the local hospital to make sure everything was all okay. Which it was. How generous was that. She could have left me there for an ambulance, but she didn't. She went out of her way to make things easier for me. Very grateful to her!

    That is only one of the many stories I have that demonstrate there are so many good people out there!! Hope is in the air.

    3 people found this helpful
  14. Donte'
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    12 February 2018 in reply to PamelaR

    That's beautiful PamelaR,

    Reminded me years ago in an isolated village in Bali, I left my credit card behind at a small shop near the volcano (about 4 hours out of the main area where I was staying). The shopkeeper locked the shop, popped onto a scooter and drove about an hour until he eventually caught up with us and return the card to me! I was dumbfounded! It was unfathomable! My jaw dropped and I was overjoyed! Unbelievable! Yes, hope is in the air! I still remember that day! :)

    1 person found this helpful
  15. Quercus
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    13 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hello everyone,

    I agree with Pamela, we need more feel good stories. The best thing ever are the everyday true feel good stories like these.

    Your story about money reminds me Donte' of a good deed.

    After my shift at work I was cleaning and picked up a little toiletries bag (one of those crappy airline ones that everyone gets and throws away). I don't know why I opened it but I did and inside was rolls of cash. Thousands.

    So I got my supervisor to witness counting the amount and took it to lost property. The look on people's faces was comical but the idea of stealing it had never even occurred to me. This was someone's goliday money! Can you imagine getting out of your taxi or to the hotel and realising all your money was gone in a foreign country? That was what I was thinking about.

    Management told me the person came back a little later in a panic. And was stunned to find it all there. I like to think someone oyt there thinks Australia's are kind because of that.

    1 person found this helpful

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