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January 17, 2013 / viewsfromasmallisland

Cruel beauty

Cruel beautyI gave this picture the title ‘cruel beauty’ because I find the British landscape in winter undeniably beautiful, but this beauty has a dark side. The lake is covered in ice and the ground is frozen. I understand the part winter plays in the natural cycle around here. However, I can’t help but feel for the wildlife when winter takes its grip. The animals and birds are remarkably tough but this weather will inevitably take its toll and many will die. There are plenty of people who take the time to feed the wildlife, as I do, but it’s not possible to feed them all. When feeding the birds at the lake it looks like a scene from a Hitchcock movie as I am overwhelmed by the huge number of desperately hungry birds, and I am saddened that I can only give each a tiny scrap of food. Whenever I have those feelings of not making much of a difference I remind myself of the famous story reproduced below. Different climate, same sentiment.

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it back into the ocean and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
Author uncertain but often credited to Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)



Leave a Comment
  1. Inside the Mind of Isadora / Jan 19 2013 8:17 pm

    Magestic ….

  2. Gallivanta / Jan 31 2013 11:45 am

    A good story.

  3. Jerry Stolarski / Feb 2 2013 1:45 pm

    Reblogged this on PhoPort.

  4. LB / Feb 2 2013 4:01 pm

    beautiful picture … lovely story

  5. Thomas Peace (author) / Feb 2 2013 10:58 pm

    I (occasionally) would throw earthworms back onto the grass (after a rain)… thinking the same thing for each one.

  6. thetrollqueen / Feb 2 2013 11:06 pm

    That story kind of just boosted my determination :3
    And that scene!! So bleak and yet so serene in appearance, like the trees have been frozen into time for those few months of winter..

    • viewsfromasmallisland / Feb 2 2013 11:13 pm

      Yes, it can be stunning to look at. For wildlife though it is tough for a while and they need all the help they can get.

  7. littledoglaughed / Feb 22 2013 2:59 pm

    The photo is lovely and the story you relate reminds me that all I can do is what is in front of me. Small actions can have power too.

    And thank you too for taking the time to visit my blog-I appreciate it.

  8. Kavita Joshi / Feb 23 2013 8:09 am

    lovely n touching story

    • viewsfromasmallisland / Feb 23 2013 12:24 pm

      It is. I often use it to remind myself there are no excuses for doing nothing. It’s always possible to make some difference for someone or something, no matter how small.

  9. Galen / Mar 4 2013 11:59 pm

    Loren Eiseley’s book, The Immense Journey, was a real impact on my early life. I’ve always loved the story of the starfish thrower.

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